Srinagar, August 04: Kashmir has been almost shut for the last one year, which has cost Rs 40,000 crore to its economy, says the business community.
On last August 5, the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre abrogated Article 370. New Delhi projected it as a move that will bring development and peace in the new Union Territory. But for the last one year, Kashmir’s economy has witnessed heavy losses and educational institutions remain shut.
President Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), Sheikh Ashiq said the Kashmir economy has suffered losses over Rs 40,000 crore since August 5.
“Every sector has been badly hit. Lakhs of people lost their jobs for the last one year,” Ashiq told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).
He said they have already apprised the government about the deteriorated condition of the economy.
John Ahmad, who runs a travel agency, is sitting at home these days and finding it difficult to feed his family. “Last one year has been the toughest phase for Kashmiris. Everything has been shut. No positive development has taken place,” he said.
He said it was the government that asked tourists to vacate Kashmir last year. “Now the government has to convince them that Kashmir is a safe place for them,” he said.
Tourism is considered the backbone of Kashmir’s economy on which over 20 percent people are directly or indirectly dependent. In 2018, Kashmir received 3,16.434 tourists between August and December. In 2019, the number fell to 43,0,59 for the same period.
The political upheaval followed by the COVID-19 pandemic has been a double blow to the tourism sector.
People associated with the tourism sector like in hotels, travel agencies, houseboats have been rendered jobless.
The handicrafts sector also suffered huge losses for the last one year. Kashmir exports over Rs 16,00 crore worth handicrafts including wood carvings, papier-machie, and shawls.
Many online businesses in Kashmir are on the verge of closing down due to low internet speed.
The business of courier companies has been almost shut since last August. More than 7,000 courier boys are working with 30 courier companies operating in Kashmir. Majority have lost their jobs in the last one year.
J&K BJP spokesperson Altaf Thakur however claimed that abrogation of Article 370 has started helping the Union Territory to develop like other parts.
“Earlier this year, an eight member team of union ministers visited Kashmir and later submitted a report to the Centre about jobs to Kashmiri youth. But the COVID played a spoilsport as BJP could not deliver what we wanted. You will see a huge development once the COVID is over. We have already told the Centre to announce a relief package for the business community as they suffered losses,” Thakur said.