The continued curfew in Kashmir has hit the economy of the valley rather hard with tourism and the horticulture sector incurring huge losses. Insiders from the tourism industry have rather sorry tales to share.
“We have suffered yet again and it will continue if the Central government does not resolve the issue. We have decided to bear the losses for whatever time the protests continue,” said a hotelier in Kashmir who has suffered a lot of reverses in the past few years due to series of unrests on the streets of Srinagar. Fading tourism has forced many employers to cut cost, rendering many employees jobless.
The trade body of Kashmir has come out in support of the protesters, saying that they will abide by the programme outlined by the protesting camp. They have refused to pay any heed to the police’s appeal that those shopkeepers who defy the Hurriyat will be given security. Recently, the police had issued statements in the local press asking local traders and vendors to reopen their shops. The police had promised them security.
Similarly, the government run schools could not be opened in four districts of Kashmir despite the authorities trying their best to get the teachers and students to the schools. “There is an element of fear among the parents; they are afraid to send their kids to the schools. The government employees, on the other hand, are with the Hurriyat,” a senior official told this newspaper. He said that the attendance in the Civil Secretariat of Srinagar was minimal.
The fruit industry too has been incurring losses. According to the Fruit Growers Association of Kashmir, they have suffered a loss of more than Rs 150 crore till 10 August. Although the state government has handed over the highways to the Army, truck drivers who ply truckloads of fruits on the Jammu-Srinagar Highway are not convinced to resume work.
In North Kashmir, especially in Sopore, some varieties of apples with very less shelf-life have started rotting in the orchards, as they cannot be transported even to Srinagar. Grapes are also rotting in the government run apple orchard at Repora in Ganderbal.
After tourism, the horticulture sector is also being hit by the current unrest and it will bring huge economic depression to Kashmir Valley as most of the rural house-holds are dependent on the income from the horticulture sector.
Federation of Chamber of Industries in Kashmir (FCIK) told the media that in the past 35 days, the local business community is bearing a loss of around Rs 125 crore per day. The constant spell of curfew and unrest in the Kashmir Valley has impacted the Jammu region also. According to Jammu Chamber of Commerce, goods worth crores of rupees were stuck on way and some dumped in Jammu, as there is restriction on the movement of vehicles.
Meanwhile, the affluent families in the valley have sent their wards outside the state as schools and colleges remain closed in Kashmir.