Mounting Economic Loss

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Kashmir has suffered Rs 8416.2 crore loss over the first two months of the Covid19 lockdown, a report by Kashmir Trade Alliance has revealed. The general trade has suffered the highest loss of Rs 1620 crore followed by that of the industrial sector at Rs 1248 crore. The lockdown over coronavirus scare has come as a double whammy for Kashmir Valley. Following immediately after the six month long siege in the wake of the revocation of Article 370 in August last, the lockdown has inflicted a crushing blow to the state turned union territory’s economy.

According to an estimate by Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the Valley’s economy suffered a loss of more than Rs 18000 crore during post Article 370 lockdown. Tourism, one of the mainstays of the local economy came to a halt and is unlikely to emerge from the slump in a long time. This has hit the hotel industry and travel operators hard. The handicrafts sector has been crushed. The fledgling IT industry and the start-ups have been wiped out. Horticulture, a Rs 6500 crore industry, that employs around three million people has suffered the heaviest loss. A significant portion of fruit has rotted on trees. Also, a significant portion lies stored in the cold storage house in the Valley. According to a news report, there are still 80,000 metric tonnes of apples lying in Kashmir, one lakh tonnes of apples which are in cold storage in Kashmir and may rot during the coronavirus lockdown. Reports have also pointed out how the inclement weather conditions, coupled with low temperatures throughout April, have hit the horticulture sector. Continuing wet weather conditions have also delayed timely spraying of tree oil and pesticides. This doesn’t augur well for the sector.

This has created a depressing situation. More so, with uncertainty deepening over the world’s and especially India’s ability to control the pandemic in near future. Kashmir economy is thus in desperate need for a government support. It needs a bit of help over and above what has been given to country’s economy in recent stimulus. Kashmir has now been more or less shut for more than nine months. So, the region can hardly endure the closure of businesses any more.

Kashmir is now looking forward to a post-Coronavirus period and hope it remains peaceful. The region has already been through a long period of disruption, so businessmen are pinning hope on near future. We can only hope that world is able to get a handle on this deadly virus and we get back to a normal life.

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