The prominent trade body Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries has tugged the ball-park estimate of the loss suffered by the businesses in Kashmirat around RS 10,000 crore since the revocation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.
It will take a while before the full extent of the economic damage is known but it is evident that the continuous shutdown over the past three months has wrought havoc to the economy. Markets remain closed in the day even though the private transport has largely been plying unhindered. The tourism, transport and horticulture have been hit hard. The tourism is likely to suffer a debilitating impact of the uncertain situation for some time to come. Besides horticulture, tourism is one of the key pillars of Kashmir economy. Thousands of people associated with the trade have been rendered jobless.
If the situation since February is any indication, nothing is going right for the Kashmir tourism and in turn the state’s economy. Pulwama attack fallout made Kashmir out of bounds for tourists. It shattered the tourists’ confidence. And just when tourism was starting to recover in summer, the scrapping of Article 370 brought things back to square one.
The KCCI has urged the government to take immediate measures to address the challenges facing the business. The communication blockade across Kashmir is one and KCCI has sought its immediate lifting .Though restoration of post-paid mobile services has been eased up; the absence of Internet remains the sore point. And this has distractedly hampered the businesses.
Now with winter due to set in, a significant amount of commercial activity will disappear. The prevailing despair has been heightened by the receding hope of an improvement in the situation in near future. One major reason for this is the leaderlessness of the on-going protest. All separatists and pro-establishment leaders, including the business leaders have been arrested. Among them Shakeel Qalandar and Dr Mubeen Shah both former heads of the Kashmir Inc besides Yasin Khan, President of Kashmir Economic Alliance are in detention. In their absence, there is no one to steer the on-going public protest against the BJP government’s decision and bring it to a conclusion. So the government needs to make the necessary measures to enable the economy to get back to normal.
No packages in the world can compensate the heavy loss to the businesses. But if dealt with sensitivity and vision, the government can certainly cushion the economic body blow to the state.