Kashmir Businessmen To Take The Fight To Delhi

18 April 2015
Rising Kashmir
Junaid Kathju

Srinagar: At a time when State and Central government is grappling with renewed protests in Kashmir which triggered after the killings of a boy in Tral and Narbal, Valley's business community has also upped the ante threatening to take out protests in Indian capital if GoI doesn't release flood rehabilitation package of Rs 44000 crore proposed by state government. Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), an umbrella group of various economic sectors, Saturday warned GoI to release the rehabilitation package within three weeks as proposed by the state government after the last year floods or face protests in New Delhi 'If government fails to release the rehabilitation package within three weeks, KEA and other trade associations will reach to New Delhi and organize a peaceful protest at Jantar Mantar,' Chairman KEA Showkat Chowdhary said while addressing a press conference here. Chowdhary said over six months have passed since floods wreaked havoc but no financial assistance has been extended to people and business community. He said various business delegations met Indian Prime Minister, State's Chief Minister and Finance Minister on several occasions 'but nothing has been done so far'. 'Each time we met Chief Minister or Finance Minister we were assured that our demands would be fulfilled but it seems state government has not been able to convince GoI for financial assistance to State. We have genuine right to compensation,' said Chowdhary. Previous government had proposed Rs 44000 crore relief and rehabilitation package to the Centre to rebuild Kashmir. After the floods, the state government has released a meager amount of money as an interim relief to flood-affected people. Chowdhary said after assessing the response of the State and the Central government to rehabilitate flood-affected people and businessmen KEA has decided to mobilize people outside state to fight for our rights.' 'Now, we have decided to move to Delhi and meet people, academicians, scholars to highlight non-seriousness of the Central government in dealing with the problems of the flood-affected Kashmir people,' he said. Chowdhary said though, they appreciate CM for giving relief cheques to flood-affected out of his own funds, 'but the relief is meager which in no way could help revive economy'. Hospitality Sector Cheif Spokesman KEA Muhammad M Yousuf Chapri said tourism was the worst-hit sector during floods and negative media reporting has further dented it. 'Hotels, houseboats and restaurant industry have faced losses to the tune of Rs 350 crore,' Chapri said. Chapri said tourism players should be compensated for six months of the business losses calculated at 50 percent occupancy of room strength per day. 'Apart from that soft loan for renovation of hotels, subsidized timber for houseboats should be provided,' said Chapri. Traders President of Kashmir Traders Federation, Jan Muhammad Koul said government should provide financial assistance by way of decent amount to shopkeepers to renovate their shops and soft loan to revive their business again. 'The interest on CC accounts should be waived off for a minimum of six months from September 2014 to March 2015,' said Koul. Transport Sector President of All J&K Goods Transport Companies Association Muhammad Sidiq Ronga said till date no compensation has been given to the flood-damaged commercial and passenger vehicles. 'Government should release the compensation to these affected transporters forthwith,' Ronga said. Contractors J&K Contractors Central Coordination Committee said state government is deliberately delaying funds to Kashmir for developmental projects which later get diverted to Jammu. General Secretary JKCCCC Farooq Dar said Rs 400 crore bills were pending with government treasuries for FY 2015 which got lapsed. 'Why should government delay funds to treasuries? Everything is being done according a plan to weaken Kashmiris and Kashmir economy,' said Farooq Dar. Electronic sector KEA said Income Tax department has issued notices to the business community to file the tax with full documentation which is very unfortunate as the most the records have got washed away during devastating deluge of 2014. The Income Tax holiday of 5-years should be given to the business community.