Wholesalers’ Rs 100 cr blocked in Kashmir, pin hopes on Govt

Business in Jammu remains gloomy

Sanjeev K. Sharma
JAMMU, Sept 11: Situation in J&K clubbed with the national GDP fall has increased woes of business and trade world here with wholesalers of Jammu having their whopping amount of Rs 100 crore blocked in Kashmir.
It is pertinent to mention here that there was a long shutdown in J&K with phone and internet facilities being snapped after August 5 when the Articles 370 and 35-A of Constitution were abrogated by the Government and the State was bifurcated into two Union Territories-Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Some trade organizations blamed snapping of internet and phone connectivity as the reason behind the present business crisis while others said low tourist influx is the villain and many blame Government for the gloomy scenario.
“Jammu’s intra-State trade as export is negligible here. Majority of areas in Kashmir are closed. With whom will we do business transactions in such circumstances as it is intra-J&K (within J&K) business here,” Rakesh Gupta, president of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) said, adding that these sufferings are in addition to the crisis created by national GDP fall and increased taxation on vehicles which has further added to the woes of traders here.
“There is almost no business being transacted here. From local production to normal shopkeepers-all are facing crisis in J&K at present,” he said.
Gupta also said that no tourist is visiting J&K and the economy here is heading towards a major collapse.
The CCI head further said that if this continues then there will be closure of many business establishments in J&K, no matter whether they are big business houses or small traders.
When asked about solution to all this, he said that the Government should have to take the issue very seriously and should sit with stakeholders like CCI to discuss the way forward.
“The trade and business in the present era is technology driven and can’t move ahead in the absence of internet and phone connectivity,” Secretary of Chamber of Traders Federation (CTF), Tushar Mahajan said.
“Maximum trade of Jammu is dependent on Kashmir and remote areas of Jammu division like Doda, Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Rajouri, Poonch etc. As internet facilities have been snapped across J&K, only phone is the link in Jammu division while the same is still snapped in Kashmir division. So trade and business of Jammu is destined to fall,” he said.
“Our 40 percent business is with Kashmir. Post August 5 developments have blocked our over Rs 100 crore in Kashmir as the internet and phone connectivity were snapped while we had already supplied goods there,” Deepak Gupta, General Secretary of Traders Federation of Ware House said adding that money was also blocked in areas like Rajouri, Poonch, Doda and other parts of Jammu division.
“But after phone connectivity was restored in Jammu division we are now transacting business with Rajouri, Poonch etc here,” he further said.
Explaining the set back to retailers, Surinder Mahajan, president of Raghunath Bazar Businessmen Association (RBBA) said that retail market at Kanak Mandi, Raghunath Bazar, Karyana merchants, readymade shops etc are worst sufferers at present.
“The already gloomy business due to Lok Sabha elections was further hit by August 5 developments increasing our losses,” he said adding that for the past 4-5 months the businessmen at Raghunath Bazar and many other areas is passing through very tough phase.
“Some shopkeepers even close their shutters without even a single customer visiting them and we know that this crisis is throughout the country yet we expect that upcoming Navratras and the marriage season may improve things,” the RBBA president said.
Under this gloomy business environment in J&K, Pawan Gupta, former MoS Finance has claimed that only the Government’s role can bring things on proper track.
“If it is due to adverse situation in J&K, only the Government can improve it to make things suitable for trade and business,” he said adding that the IT sector can be a game changer at present.
“The Government should concentrate on bringing IT bigwigs like Wipro, Tata Consultancy, Infoteck etc here and making J&K a manufacturing hub by starting some new industries,” the former MoS said.
“Over 50,000 J&K youths, who are expert in IT sector, are presently working outside can be brought back. They may even work on comparatively less salaries at home and it will also prevent brain drain,” Gupta further said.
“All this can be done by the Government only. If consumption and demand are to be increased it will be done by giving employment to the people to earn money which will create demand and consumption and all these things are interlinked,” he informed adding that banks should simplify lending by lowering interest rates.
He further said that the Government should give some physical stimulus to the industry and lower the GST rate on certain things.
“The solution to the present business crisis will not be easy. Drastic and out of the box solution will be needed. The imports to the State should be lowered by starting the manufacturing here itself as this will also give some relief,” he said.