Lockdown hits valley economy, trade bodies peg loss at INR 10,000 crore

The state completes 85 days of shutdown on Monday, main markets continue to be shut

Image Courtesy: india today

Sheikh Ashiq, President of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) confirmed to the Press Trust of India (PTI) that the running business losses for Kashmir have crossed INR 10,000 crore and all sectors have been severely hit. It has been nearly three months now and yet the people are not doing business because of the prevailing situation. There has been some activity in the recent weeks, but the feedback that we are getting is that the business is dull,” MrAshiq said.

The shutdown in Kashmir, following the abrogation of Article 370, entered its 85th day on Monday, October 28, has not only left business crippled but has also rendered thousands jobless with main markets and factories continuing to remain shut.

Ashiq said that the figure was a preliminary estimate and the KCCI would come out with a white paper revealing the exact losses and the permanent damage to the economy. Explaining how the internet shutdown has permanently harmed the IT sector, he said that IT firms in the valley working with American and European companies have not been able to provide their services due to the internet blockade, which have led these international clients to switch to other areas.

He also said that around 50,000 to 60,000 carpet weavers have been rendered jobless. These weavers would generally receive orders online by July and August which would be completed and ready-to-be delivered by Christmas and New Year. This year they received no orders.

Apart from the tourism industry, the worst hit is the INR 10,000 crore fruit industry where apple growers became reluctant to do business and came under heavy threat from militants.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Mohammad Shafi, vice-president of Jammu and Kashmir’s largest industrial estate, said that he is planning to sell a part of his ancestral orchard to avoid bankruptcy.Shafi who also owns a rice mill and an animal bone mill said that most of the workers in his factory had left and that his interest payments were mounting.

The growers have been able to export only a third of their around 20 lakh tonnes of apples, hamstrung by militant attacks on non-local people —mostly those involved in the apple trade — that resulted in five deaths.The KCCI President also said that development projects worth INR 2,000 crore had come to a halt because of the workforce leaving the state.

Not only this, the KCCI President said that notwithstanding the business loss, they would have to face other problems like GST and online returns. This, not because they missed deadlines, but due to the clampdown in the Valley. Now, they have no system to cut back on their losses and the government has not taken up any responsibility to help.

Three prominent members of trade bodies, Mubeen Shah, former Chairman of the J&K Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Yasin Khan, President of Kashmir Economic Alliance; and ShakeelQalandar, former President of Federation of Chamber of Industries Kashmir, that had been detained under the draconian Public Safety Act, have still not been released.

Even though the shops and markets do open for some hours during the morning and evening, they are shut for most hours of the day in a way of a silent protest against the government’s clampdown.

While the government claims that the abrogation of the special status will usher in a new era for the state, for now it feels like it has ushered in more dystopia than development.

We Will Not Survive This Disaster: Kashmiri Entrepreneurs As Lockdown
‘No outsiders in Kashmir’: Militants target non-locals, gun down apple traders and migrant labourers
Kashmir: Apples Caught in a Siege, Growers Willing to ‘Sacrifice’ Harvest
Kashmir will ‘Disobey’: Citizens choose silence as their strongest weapon of resilience



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