‘Curfews, Strikes Cost Kashmir Rs 2 Lakh Crores’
In last 10 days, Valley loses Rs 1000 crores: Experts
Srinagar, Feb 22: Kashmir incurred losses of around Rs two lakh crores due to curfews and strikes in the last 23 years, business experts said on Friday.
“A day of shutdown or curfew costs Rs 100 crores to the valley’s business sector per day.
We have faced 2000 curfew and strike days in last 23 years and during these days, business sector has suffered losses to the tune of Rs two lakh crores,” said Shakeel Qalandar, former president, Federation of Commerce and Industries Kashmir (FCIK).
In the last ten days alone, the strikes and curfews have cost Valley Rs 1000 crores of business. The fresh spell of curfews and strikes came in the wake of execution of Muhammad Afzal Guru on February 9 in Tihar Jail.
Qalandar said owing to recurrent curfews and strikes, the business sector was thrown into ‘death trap’. “Every day we lose business to the tune of Rs 100 crores due to a shutdown or curfew,” he said.
Taking a dig at the central government, he said Government of India was wholly and solely responsible for the losses valley’s business community has suffered in the last 10 days of shutdown.
“Government of India is not bothered about the emotions and sentiments of the valley people. Whatever losses we have suffered in the last two weeks, the entire responsibility lies on the government,” Qalandar said.
The former FCIK president, who is also the member of Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS), said during the last two days of ‘Bhart Bandh’ India’s business sector suffered losses to the tune of 26,000 crores in 70 per cent of its states.
According to Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), constant strikes and curfews during the last two weeks have hit the general trade severely and the community has suffered losses worth Rs 200 crores.
“Though the month of February is an off season but as the market continues to remain shut due to strikes and curfews we have suffered losses worth Rs 200 crores during this period,” said KTMF General Secretary, Bashir Ahmad Dar.
He said business during these two weeks has been held at the rate of 0.2 per cent and community has suffered a ‘setback’.
“It was time for business sector to gear up for the 2013 economic activity, but it suffered a jolt with constant strikes and curfew,” Dar said.
Traders said if the situation continues to be hostile it would prove detrimental for Kashmir economy which is already in doldrums.
Dar, who is also a president of J&K STD, ISD and PCO Owners Association, said the valley recharge outlet owners suffered losses worth Rs 15 crores during the week-long internet blockade imposed by the authorities across the valley.
“The daily business of recharge owners in the valley is up to Rs 3 crores which include 40 per cent of internet and satellite dish TV recharges,” he said.
Blaming the state government for blocking the internet service illegally, he said it must have taken the businessmen into consideration before putting ban on the net services.
KTMF also said the traders dealing with fruits and other perishable items have also suffered huge losses during these two weeks.
“There is uncertainty and no one knows what is going to happen. Even traders have stopped to import goods to the valley which has also caused shortage of essential commodities in the market,” said Nazir Ahmad, a trader.
Ahmad said the valley people were also battling inflation. “The rates of edibles have doubled in these two weeks due to the shortage of commodities in the market,” he added.
President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), Abdul Hameed Punjabi said strikes and curfews have hit the valley’s business sector badly.
Punjabi said shutdown does not affect general trade only but damages the whole structure of business sector.
“During last 10 days of shutdown, valley industrials have suffered huge losses and recovery was impossible,” he said.
He said in last three years businessmen tried to recuperate the losses incurred during 2008, 2009 and 2010 unrests. “Now we are again suffering losses and future of the business sector has become uncertain,” said Punjabi.
He said Valley tourism sector was also hit severely by the unstable situation here and tourism stakeholders have lost all the advance bookings.