Imagine being dependent on one road link for remaining connected to the rest of the world and that road link getting blocked for days together. And this phenomenon becoming a routine over the years and years now, with no end in sight.
The dependence on one road link for all the needs-be it transportation, travel and trade is having a killing effect on regions like Kashmir and Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir as a single day of the Srinagar-Jammu highway closure costs Kashmir economy around Rs 100 crore.
Figures provided by various trade bodies say that imports goods and raw material worth 65,000 Crore of which 60 percent is imported to the Kashmir division.
Based on these figures, the business community claims that the failure of successive regimes to provide an alternative road link means that trade worth Rs 100 crore a day is halted, which has resulted in business losses ranging from Rs 40 crore to Rs 50 crore a day.
Closure of the all important arterial road leads to the stoppage of supplies not only in Kashmir zone but Ladakh as well as Kargil. The road closure leads to shortage of essentials and even food stuff as well. This week when the valley witnessed a heavy snowfall the administration even issued orders for rationing of fuel as well.
Why we have to confront this problem ever year and the problem turning grave with every passing day is a issue that needs a serious thought. Over the years successive regimes have failed to provide all-weather road connectivity to Kashmir, which is hurting economic growth prospects as well as causing inconvenience to people living in the valley.
The Kashmir-based business community, as well as civil society members, claim that the failure of the mainstream political parties to ensure round-the-year connectivity has dented Kashmir’s economy badly.
What is more worrying is that Jammu and Kashmir is losing on various fronts as well due to its poor road connectivity and accessibility to the region. The Logistics Ease Across Different States (LEADS) Index has given only one index point to J&K, placing it at the bottom of the list of states and UT’s having worst logistic connectivity.
Connectivity is a key to the successful businesses and here the trade and manufacturing sector is as a serious disadvantage. If we compare two regions of the state-Jammu and Kashmir-we see a vast difference in terms of industrial expansion and growth of trade as well.
We suffer losses as the delay in the import of goods and raw materials means that business community is bereft of trading opportunities thus causing losses. Similarly, the transportation cost in such a scenario destroys our manufacturing sector as the products that are produced here end up losing with their competitors.
This scenario has been there since the last seven decades and no effort has been made to get the issue addressed. What we are witnessing is the lack of political will to take such an initiative so that the problem is addressed.