Highway closure: Kashmir economy loses Rs 1995 crore

The closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway 21 times in the past two months has cost Kashmir economy at least Rs 1995 crore, traders and officials say.
Photo: Muhammad Taskeen/GK
Photo: Muhammad Taskeen/GK

The closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway 21 times in the past two months has cost Kashmir economy at least Rs 1995 crore, traders and officials say.

According to the state finance department data, goods and raw materials worth Rs 95 crore are imported to Kashmir on any given day and given this assertion, trucks loaded with goods and raw materials could not reach their destinations in time during the closure of the highway for 21 days intermittently this winter, thus hampering the Valley's normal trade cycle.

The recently-released government figures say that J&K imported goods and raw material worth Rs 58050 crore in 2017-18, of which 60 percent (around Rs 34,800 crore), was imported to the Kashmir division.

Though there has not been a detailed study on losses incurred during the highway closure, business leaders say 30 percent worth of supplies are losses, as the convoy trucks coming from other parts of the state carry perishable goods, which, once stuck in the highway, lose their value on arrivals.

Being an import-driven state, around 80 percent goods and raw material come from other parts of the country, the officials say.

Citing an example, chairman of all-Kashmir fruit and vegetable dealers' association, Bashir Ahmad Bashir said if trucks carrying fresh vegetables get stuck along the Srinagar-Jammu highway, it automatically results in losses.

"As the supply loses its value, it is a loss to the dealers eventually," he said, adding that even apple exported from Kashmir is hampered, which also is a loss to the Valley's economy.

Chairman, Kashmir Economic Alliance, Muhammad Yaseen Khan said Kashmir's economy is badly suffering, in fact bleeding, following losses incurred due to highway closure.

"Decades after India's independence, we still don't have all-weather road connectivity to Kashmir, despite the claims of the central government that Kashmir is the country's integral part. In today's modern age, the Valley remains cut off from rest of the world for days together," he said.

He said their preliminary assessment says that Kashmir loses Rs 30 crore as and when highway remains closed.

"This is a pure loss which we cannot recover," he said.

"Not only losses, but there is disruption also. Each day goods worth Rs 95 crore are imported of which loss is up to Rs 30 crore a day," he said.

"When the supplies stop, neither the businessmen can earn profit nor would the customers get goods. This results in shortages and fuels inflation. This way Kashmiris are suffering from all sides due to the blockade of the highway," he said.

While the direct impact of the Srinagar-Jammu highway closure is felt by all segments of the economy, mutton dealers face a major brunt.

"We deal with livestock and if our supply gets stuck on the road for a few days, it results in mortalities, which is a loss to us. Besides, there is a business loss as we are not able to do our daily business in times of closure of the road due to shortage of supplies," said president, all-Kashmir wholesale mutton dealers' association, Mehraj-ud-Din Ganie.

The logistics ease across different states (LEADS) index has given only one index point to J&K, placing it at the bottom of the list of states having "worst logistic" connectivity in India.

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