Post-floods: KEA seeks central package for Kashmir traders

Says central govt not serious to address traders’ issues

Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) Monday appealed the government of India to provide “financial package” for restructuring and rebuilding Kashmir economy which according to it has been shattered by the recent floods.

Chairman, KEA, Showkat Chowdhary speaking to mediapersons today reiterated alliance’s demand for an immediate financial package by the central government for the flood-hit traders in Kashmir.
“About a month has passed since the devastating floods hit Kashmir, yet no tangible step has so far been taken by the central government as would suggest it’s serious to address the issues of affected traders,” he said, alleging that the centre leadership is doing only lip service to this issue.
“The height is that there is no word from the centre on the rehabilitation package submitted by state government to it for financial assistance,” he said.
Chowdhary said the centre government should help Kashmiris in this hour of crisis by announcing a financial package and giving a go-ahead to the state government proposal pending before it, or else it should allow “us to seek aid from foreign countries which have shown eagerness to help Jammu and Kashmir.”
“During our meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month, we urged him to provide for rehabilitation of the flood-hit traders in Kashmir to help them restart their businesses,” he said, adding that “unfortunately there is no positive response from him (till date).”
Meanwhile, at the KEA which is an amalgam of various traders and business bodies today held an interactive session in which its various traders bodies including its constituents participated.
On the occasion, four business associations namely Kashmir Traders Federation (KTF), Kashmir Electronics and Mobile Distributors Association, Coordination Committee of Private School Education and Kashmir Shikara Association formally joined KEA.
Chowdhary said the KEA feels duty bound to raise the issues of the business community at different forums. He said all segments of trade and industry have suffered massive losses due to floods in Kashmir.
Giving sector wise details, the chairman KEA said losses assessed by the stakeholders to the tourism sector are about Rs 250 crore.
“As we all know tourism sector is the main driver of the economy, state and the central government should lose no time in reviving and rehabilitating this sector,” he said, adding that the KEA demands a grant Rs 5-15 lakh should be given to the hotel and guesthouses.
He said the PDD should give 100 per cent tariff waiver for September and October.
Speaking on the occasion, President, Kashmir Traders Federation (KTF), Jan Muhammad Koul said general traders should also be provided comprehensive package. “Small shops should be given Rs 5 lakh and big traders Rs 10 lakh.  Government should provide soft loans with interest waiver for three years and after 4 years, not more than 4 per cent interest rate should be charged.”
President New Parimpora Fruit Mandi, Bashir Ahmad said that fruit growers have suffered losses to the tune of Rs 2,890 crore due to incessant rainfall and the floods. He said the government should compensate all the growers/fruit dealers who have suffered loss.
“In order to help and revive this sector, government should supply free fungicides, pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers besides plant material for three years,” he said.
The transporters on the occasion raised their demands and said hundreds of the vehicles were submerged in the floods causing them extensive damage to the tune of Rs 4.50 crore.
“1800 vehicles including tourist taxis, minibuses, trucks have got damaged which should be properly compensated.  The vehicle owners should be given business loss of Rs 5 lakh each. The transport companies should also be given relief of Rs 5 lakh,” they said.
Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir Contractors’ Coordination Committee, Farooq Dar said the construction sector has suffered losses to the tune of Rs 300 crore.
“The construction firms should be compensated by providing soft loans with the repayment period of 10 years and interest free moratorium period of two years.”

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