August 2016 News

Turmoil Sends Jammu Economy Into A Tailspin

10 August 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Arteev Sharma

Jammu: The unrest in the Kashmir valley that has entered second month has pushed the economy of the Jammu region into a worst contraction with the losses of hotel industry, trade, tourism, and transport sectors running into thousands of crores and rendering thousands of people jobless in the private sector. The turmoil has proved as the last nail in the coffin for the tourism industry as violent protests erupted during the 'peak tourist season.' Stakeholders said the tourism sector had suffered a major setback with losses of over Rs 1,000 crore. As far as industry of the Jammu region is concerned, the production has come down drastically while the 'blockade in transaction between Kashmir and Jammu' has made the scenario grim for industrialists. The hoteliers and restaurant owners have been forced to bring down manpower due to a large-scale cancellation of advance bookings. The Kashmir valley had been reeling under vicious cycle of violent protests since the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8. Some belts of the Jammu region have also witnessed sporadic protests against the civilian deaths in Kashmir. Arun Gupta, general secretary, Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI), Jammu, said the area's trade and industry had been crippled due to the prevailing unrest. 'Our losses are running into thousands of crores. After recording a high number of Amarnath pilgrims in the first week, we were expecting the yatra count would cross the 5-lakh mark this year but the reverse has happened. The wholesale and retail markets have been wearing a deserted look while the tourism industry has faced a huge loss,' he added. 'The economy of Katra is directly proportional to Kashmir's tourism. Any unrest and fall in tourist footfall in Kashmir undeniably affects the business of Katra. As per our estimates, the prevailing tension in the Valley has made an impact of Rs 400 crore on the economy of Katra with the hotel industry suffering a loss of over Rs 50 crore alone in the past one month,' Rakesh Wazir, president, Hotel and Restaurant Association, Katra, said. He said the violence in Kashmir had overshadowed the normalcy in the Jammu region as it gave outsiders an impression that trouble in Kashmir meant problem in the entire state. Lalit Gupta, president, Bari Brahmana Industrial Association (BBIA), said the industry of the region had so far suffered a loss of about Rs 400 crore and it would go up further. 'Our position is not good due to complete blockade. Industrialists have not received payments from Kashmir for the goods and material sent to Valley,' he added. Inderjit Khajuria, president, Jammu Hotels and Lodges' Association, said all advance bookings made by the customers had been cancelled following trouble in Kashmir. 'The tourism industry, including hoteliers, tour and taxi operators and other people associated with it, has suffered approximately a peak-season loss of Rs 500 crore, including Rs 200 crore in Jammu alone,' he said. Anan Sharma, president, J&K Oil Tankers Association, said nearly 1,000 oil tankers had not been able to ply on roads because of violent attacks on drivers and their vehicles in Kashmir during the past one month. 'Each oil tanker owner has been suffering a loss of Rs 2,000 per day and it runs into crores in a month, while nearly 340 tankers have been damaged by protesters,' he said.