Syed Junaid Hashmi
Frequent strikes and uncertainty has not only impacted business and trading community of Kashmir valley but also hit traders of Jammu costing them around Rs. 100 crore during the last 7 days.
And if the uncertainty persists, losses are likely to cross Rs. 300 crore in next ten days. Traders in Jammu maintain that 40 percent of their business depends on middle class trading community of Kashmir valley and it is this business community which has suffered immensely due to strikes and other disturbances in Kashmir valley.
They said that due to uncertain security scenario, things are going from bad to worse. Stating that routine rotation of money has stopped, traders assert that their counterparts in Kashmir valley are suffering equally and hence, they too are reluctant to talk of business in the present gloomy scenario. Despite catering to 12 districts of Jammu region, traders said that trade with Kashmir has its own importance and significance.
As a result of prolonged bandh, traders of Jammu region who are biggest suppliers of goods to valley have suffered heavy losses both in terms of non-delivery of goods to valley as well as non-remittance of money from traders of valley due date for filing of returns under VAT is just few days away.
“Jammu and Kashmir regions are interdependent. Hence, disturbed Kashmir valley impacts annual income of trading community of Jammu region. We suffer heavy losses as a result of this. If by that time normal trade activities are not restored, traders of Jammu shall not be able to deposit VAT amount in stipulated time,” said a trader seeking anonymity.
He added that in view of prevalent situation in the state, chamber has already requested state government to extend date for filing of quarterly VAT returns of first quarter. Another businessman said that all essential commodities are imported into the state, from wheat, rice to raw material for industries. “We receive order from traders in Kashmir valley and then according, dispatch goods ordered by them. Strikes or disturbances in Kashmir valley prevent traders over from placing orders. They have already stopped ordering goods,” said the trader.
He maintained that those giving strike and bandh calls in Kashmir valley are actually pushing business community towards quagmire of uncertainty and chaos. “This was the season when valley traders could have earned money in crores. Amarnath Yatra has potential to boost economy of Jammu and Kashmir but if present disturbances continue, economy would suffer immensely,” added Gupta.
He urged all the political leaders alongwith traders and business community of Kashmir valley to work towards creating an atmosphere for return of peace across the state. It needs to be mentioned here that state finance ministry had recently in an official handout stated that state including Jammu has an average pay bill of Rs 50 crore per day, of which Rs 20 crore comes from the Kashmir Valley.
It had further said that if the loss suffered by economy is calculated on per day basis when the general state domestic product is Rs 35,000 crore per annum and trading and bank credit Rs 17,000 crore per annum, figure approximately works upto Rs 161 crore per day. Economists are of the opinion that resurgent tourism industry may wind up in the state since tourist arrivals have begun falling sharply in the past few weeks.
An estimated 15 to 20 lakh vacationists were expected to arrive in Srinagar this year and tourist inflow both domestic and foreign touched six lakh in first six months. However, economists maintain that due to prevailing uncertainty, tourism has become first casualty.