Highway ban: Stakeholders say move to result in Rs 2000 crore loss to Horticulture sector


Highway ban: Stakeholders say move to result in Rs 2000 crore loss to Horticulture sector in Kashmir

Demanding immediate roll back of official order, say products aimed to rot due to delay in transportation_

Srinagar..Facing criticism from the political class, tour operators, industrialists, growers and the civil society, the State government’s ban on civilian traffic for 45 days on the Srinagar-Jammu highway is set to dent the Valley’s horticulture industry and tourism sector with those affected by the ban on vehicular traffic asserting that the step will result in losses to the tune of hundreds of crores.

“We have cherry stock in cold storages, which requires urgent transportation to various destination in the country. The crop will be hit badly by the ban. Besides, it will delay the chemical treatment of orchards.

The ban is unjustified and will make small-time farmers suffer,” Bashir Ahmad Basheer, chairman of the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers-Cum-Dealers Association told.

He said from ending July, apple crop will also be harvested and packing will start and the Amarnath Yatra is ending on August 15. “So barring the travel of fruit laden and other vehicles for five to six hours on the highway stretch need to be looked into a broader perspective and that it is a move aimed to chocking Kashmir’s economy.

When fruit won’t reach the outside market on time, its demand will go down and quality reduces. So we expect losses to the tune of Rs 1000 to 2000 crore as far as horticulture sector is concerned.”

The ban order issued by the Governor’s administration has barred the movement of civilian vehicles, including trucks, from Nashri to Qazigund on the Srinagar-Jammu highway for 45 days, till the Yatra is over. Travel Agents Association of Kashmir president Ashfaq Siddiq Dug said.

“This will have serious implications for upcoming tourist season. It will only add to the woes of tourists and pilgrims.” Stating that Kashmir does not have any alternative road connectivity, Dug said, “It will result in huge economic losses in Kashmir.”

Talking to noted Industialist Shakeel Qalander said that though Kashmir has only surface link where from goods and crops like apple, cherry, saffron, honey, almonds, walnuts etc are transported to national and international markets, the ban is all set to cast a shadow on the Kashmir’s economy.

“People associated with the fruit trade will have to maintain their inventories for months together instead of days, which is a difficult process and a sign of trouble. Five hour ban per day that will continue till August 15 is a dictatorial step aimed at targeting the Kashmir economy at a time when Valley was expecting some relief due to ongoing tourist season,” he said.

Qaiser Shahid Khan, senior vice president Industrialists Association Khamoh said that ban order is dictatorial in nature as it will not allow the Kashmiri products be that Cherry, apple, honey, almonds, saffron and other items to reach their respective markets.

“The cost of our products will miserably drop so will their life. Our products will rot due to the delay in transportation,” he said. “Vehicles involved in transportation will also have to spend more time to and fro as compared to their routine travel procedure. Expected losses are huge. Government must rethink on its order of banning the travel on the highway during Yatra period.”

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