Kashmir economy down by a trillion
Housing, business sectors bear the brunt; Govt infrastructure ruined as well
Kashmir has suffered massive damage of over Rs 1,00,000 crore (One trillion) to infrastructure and business in the devastating floods that hit the region during first week of this month, a civil society formation said on Thursday.
The flood described as the worst in a century by the chief minister Omar Abdullah affected 2,600 villages – 1,700 in Kashmir and rest in Jammu.
Over 390 villages were fully submerged and 1,225 partially in Kashmir resulting in colossal damage to housing and business sectors.
The summer capital of Srinagar, and Islamabad and Kulgam saw the devastating flood wiping out large portion of both public and private infrastructure as well as business.
“The worst hit is the housing sector which has witnessed damage to 15 percent infrastructure,” said the industrialists, Shakeel Qalander, member of Kashmir Center for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS).
Qalander who was member of former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh’s Reconstruction Program for J&K, said as per rough estimates damage to housing sector has been Rs 30,000 crore.
The Society, which is an amalgam of experts from fields like economy, academics and business, said of 20,50,000 houses in J&K as per 2011 census, at least 3,00,000 houses have got either fully or partially damaged.
“On an average we have calculated that every affected house has suffered a damage of Rs 10 lakh including the household items,” said another member of the formation.
The Group has calculated damage to public infrastructure at Rs 25,000 crore as a vast network of roads and bridges and government institutions have been washed away by floods while premier hospitals located in the city have been badly hit both in terms of infrastructure and machinery.
As per official estimates, of total 15517 roads around 12553 have been completely or partially damaged across J&K in the flood which left around 248 persons dead across J&K – 58 in Kashmir including 25 in Srinagar.
Kashmir Traders Federation, General Secretary, Ghulam Ahmad Liagaroo quoting rough estimates said the business community has suffered a massive damage of Rs 30000 crore.
Srinagar’s main business hubs like Lal Chowk, Residency Road, Maharaj Bazaar, Polo View, Jawahar Nagar, Karan Nagar, Koker Bazaar, Lambert Lane, Iqbal Park, Maisuma Bazaar, Batamaloo, HSH Street, Goni Khen, Court Road, Abi Guzar, Dalgate, forest lane, Bishamber Nagar, Ram Bagh, Haft Chinar, Solina, Sonwar, Shivpora, Basant Bagh, Nai Sadak and Sarai Bala have all been wiped off by the flood. The markets were known for selling branded and costly household items like kitchen ware and electronic appliances, readymade garments, clothing, Jewelry and spare parts.
“The losses will go up once the final calculations are made after water level recedes,” Liagaroo said.
On September 15 India’s business organization, ASSOCHAM, said floods have caused a loss of Rs 5700 crore to J&K. “These assessments have been made on ivory towers while the actual initial assessment made by the Kashmir based experts and civil society members on the ground is one trillion,” said another KCSDS member Hameeda Nayeem.
The business community has asked the government to fund rebuilding of the business sector. “They should write off VAT and other taxes on the stocks which have already got damaged. The banking sector should support rebuilding of the business community,” said member Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Khursheed Zargar.
Of four lakh shops and business establishments, as per KSCDS, at least one lakh have been badly destroyed and the losses include spoiling of stocks, merchandise and infrastructure.
The agriculture and allied sectors which were severely hit in south Kashmir districts have suffered damage of Rs 3000 crore as paddy, fruits and vegetables have been washed away by floods and the transport sector faced loss of Rs 500 crore, the civil society formation said.
“These are all preliminary figures. We are working on a comprehensive assessment of losses in different sectors and we will soon come out with the figures,” the KCSDS said.
A senior government official said actual position would become clear once the water recedes completely which would allow making assessment on the ground. “Many parts of city are still inaccessible,” the official said.
The flood, which first inundated south Kashmir, hit Srinagar on September 7. Even after passage of 14 days flood water levels are above three to five feet in worst hit areas of summer capital like Jawahar Nagar.
The natural calamity resulted from continous rainfall for more than a week during first week of September resulting in massive water flow in Jhelum which originates from south Kashmir and after snaking through Srinagar and Baramulla enters Pakistan administered Kashmir.