SRINAGAR- People are staring at a bumpy road ahead as repair and construction of roads have come to a grinding halt following non-availability of non-local labourers in Kashmir valley, where normal life remained crippled for the 50th day against scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35 A, besides bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories.
Official sources said that over four lakh skilled and unskilled non-local workers left the valley soon after the special status of the state was scrapped by the centre on August 5, following a complete communication gag and fearing retaliation from the locals.
The vacuum created by the absence of these workers, particularly barbers, has rejuvenated the marker for local workforce in the valley. However, some sectors, particularly road construction and repair, have been badly hit due to the non-availability of non-local labourers.
“Non-local labourers constitute 99 per cent of the work force in road construction and repair sector,” an official of the Roads and Buildings (R&B), who wished anonymity, told UNI.
He said as the workers have left the valley, the road repair and construction operations in entire Kashmir valley have come to a grinding halt.
Meanwhile, expressing concern over the halt of the operations, he said if the operations were not started soon the condition of the roads in the valley would further worsen as they can’t be repaired during winter. “The roads have to be constructed and repaired before mid-October in Srinagar and first week of October in rest of the valley,” he said.
He said macadaminzation requires good temperature and can’t be done in cold temperature. “If we miss this window, we can only resume the operations in April so that the weather is conducive for macadaminzation,” he told UNI.
Answering a question whether the all weather macadaminzation technology has been successful in the valley, he said the authorities had tried few technologies but so far none of them have been successful. “Once we have a successful weather macadaminzation technology, we will be able to repair roads during winter even in sub-zero temperature,” he said.
However, he said as the macadaminzation can’t be done during cold temperature, the damaged roads can’t be repaired if the window was missed due to non-availability of non-local labourers.
The Modi-led NDA government on August 5 scrapped Article 370 and Article 35 A, triggering massive outrage among people in the valley, where work in government offices, banks and educational institutes remained affected for the 50th day on Monday.
The non-locals, who come from different parts of the country — particularly from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh (UP), West Bengal, Rajasthan and Punjab — have over the years taken over majority of unorganized sector, ranging from haircutting to construction business. Most of them come to the valley with the arrival of spring and leave for their respective states at the end of the summer while some, including barbers and Kashmiri snack sellers, have permanently settled in Kashmir from many years.
However, as the situation became grim with each passing day post August 5, the non-local workers — some of whom withstood the unrest in 2008, 2010 and 2016 — left the valley with very little hope of returning back.