Srinagar, April 04: This Press Conference has been called in response to the Government Order No. 353-Home (ISA) of 2019 dated 03-04-2019 banning movement of civilian traffic on the National Highway from Udhampur to Baramulla for two days in a week. The order does not augur well for a democratic set up and has been rightly condemned by all stakeholders.
The order has been issued without considering its impact on the population of Kashmir and is indicative of the lack of awareness of local problems. At a time when the Kashmir Chamber has been raising the issue of lack of alternative routes and means of travel to Kashmir, the closure of the only available road link would put the whole population to unimaginable inconvenience and will have disastrous consequences for our economy.
It needs to be appreciated that access to Kashmir is limited. We do not have a rail link, nor any means of water transport. Air travel, due to the wrong policies of the Civil Aviation Ministry, is out of bounds because of high fares and heavy movement of security forces from the civilian airport.
Even without the formal banning of civilian movement, travelling on the highway is already a nightmare and only necessary and unavoidable traffic movement is being conducted. The banning will bring further chaos and confusion. It will also impede the movement of goods including essentials like sheep, poultry, etc and raise the transportation costs. Air fares would also escalate.
Numerous elections have been held in the State and at no point of time have we witnessed creation of such paranoia and panic. It is unprecedented and alienating. The State needs to deal with the situation without encroaching on the rights of the public.
The order will also negatively impact the inflow of tourists to our State and interfere with the booking schedules and plans of tourists. We are not aware of such a restriction of any tourist destination in the world. At a time when the Government and tourism players are making efforts to revive the tourism sector, these actions would not be well taken.
The order also disrupts the smooth movement of fruit laden trucks from Srinagar for which April and May are critical months. The Horticulture Sector will also suffer due to the impact on movement of fruits and vegetables.
In view of the above, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry urges for the immediate revocation of the order and has sought time from the Hon’ble Governor for a meeting in this regard.