March 2017 News

Post Unrest, Kashmir Economy Continues To Disappoint Biz Community

11 March 2017
Greater Kashmir
Mukeet Akmali

Srinagar: Witnessing a loss of over Rs 16,000 crore in 2016 due to summer unrest, Kashmir economy continues to face a slump because of the longest halt of business activities witnessed in last summer, traders here say. Talking about the business scenario in Kashmir post unrest several traders, business leaders, shopkeepers and tourism players complained of facing slump in business due to the losses incurred by the economy during 2016 agitation. '2016 was the worst phase for business in Kashmir, during six months of last year shops and business establishments remained closed which meant that there was no economic activity,' said spokesperson of Kashmir Economic Alliance, Farhan Kitab. Kitab, who owns a footwear store in busy Lal Chowk, says sales have drastically went down post the strike calendar was relaxed. 'Halting of economic activities meant that people's buying power decimated to the point where there only preference was to shop or hoard essential commodities,' he claimed. 'Despite the situation has improved quite well, the market is yet to show any signs of return to normal business.' Kashmir economy faced worst phase last year summer as majority of the business activities were halted post killing of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani in South Kashmir on July 8. Widespread protests and about 100 civilian killings followed by curfews and strike calls threw economic activities completely out of gear for more than five months. Chairman of Kashmir Economic Alliance Muhammad Yaseen Khan believes that the trade in Kashmir this time is witnessing dip by over 60 percent in comparison to early 2016. 'Our businesses are passing through worst time, our sales have dropped by over 60 percent as people don't have money and purchasing power of the consumers in Kashmir has been badly affected by last year's unrest,' said Khan. He said on the other hand there are no developmental activities going on, which is further hampering investment prospects in Kashmir. President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mushtaq Ahmad Wani echoed similar views. 'It is like recession for businesses in Kashmir, there is liquidity crunch in the market followed by dip in trade as businesses are yet to recuperate from last year's business losses,' he said adding every segment of economy is passing through the same issue. 'Our export sector also got hit by last year's unrest, while local trade activities have been worst victims of the unrest,' he said. As the trade and commerce are passing through tough times, tourism sector which provides livelihood and supports other allied sector is also sailing in the same boat with tourism players recording lesser influx of tourists compared to this time during last year. Despite all efforts by the government and tourism players to organize road shows and tourism promotions across India, they say that the impact isn't visible as yet. 'It is gloomy issue for tourism sector,' said president, Kashmir Hotels and Restaurants Owners Federation, Javid Burza adding that they are optimistic that their hardwork in clearing negative perception about place outside the state will help to bring back tourists this year.