A delegation of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad had a detailed interaction with Baseer Ahmad Khan, Advisor to the Lt Governor, Jammu and Kashmir and Pandurang K Pole, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir at International Convention Center, Srinagar.
While thanking the members of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry for the concern they expressed for the community by contributing One Lakh Masks to the Government to support it’s fight against COVID-19, Baseer A Khan stated that though the Government possessed ample resources the gesture by KCC&I was appreciable. He underlined the importance of the KCC&I in making the business community aware of the serious threat posed by the pandemic and to take all precautions for breaking the chain which was critical.
Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad conveyed the elation of the business community over the appointment of Baseer A Khan as Advisor to the Lt. Governor and appreciated the positive and supportive role played by Khan as the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir in redressing the problems of the business community.
Sheikh Ashiq stated that the plight of thousands of citizens of Jammu and Kashmir, especially students, labourers and members of the business community who had been stranded in various parts of the Country due to the lockdown was a matter of deep concern. Baseer A Khan stated that the Government was actively monitoring the situation and had set in motion a number of measures for their safe and early return.
Sheikh Ashiq also raised the issue of physical assault on the labourers in Barot Village of Himachal Pradesh and urged for action in the matter and also compensation to the injured who had been left physically unfit to earn a livelihood for the time being.
Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad highlighted the problems faced by various sectors during the current disruption.
He elaborated that while as policy measures for bringing the economy back on track were being finalised, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the whole world to a standstill. He urged the Government to accord special consideration to Jammu and Kashmir while formulating policy measures aimed to revive the devastated economy.
The President also raised the issue of water crisis faced by lakhs of residents of Srinagar on account of delay in repairing the Malshai Bagh Canal by the Irrigation & Flood Control Department. The Hon’ble Advisor stated that he had taken up the issue had noted the delay in completion of the works. He stated that the project was estimated to cost around 90 Crores and there might have been procedural delays. He requested the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir to look into the delay.
Sheikh Ashiq also highlighted the problems of labourers, artisans and weavers and suggested measures for their registration for availing various supporting measures initiated by the Government. He stated that those artisans registered with the J&K Government should be eligible to avail all benefits recently announced by the Union Finance Minister.
Members of the KCC&I stated that in the supply of essential commodities, only 23 Stores had been designated for home delivery with only one delivery boy allowed per store. It was brought to the notice of the Hon’ble Advisor that this was too little a number to cater to the huge volumes required to be supplied. The stores had also not be provided any protective gear which could pose a threat in the prevailing situation. They urged that a maximum number of grocery stores needed to be opened up as was being done in other parts of the Country. There was also a problem of stockpiling of existing stocks which could get damaged if not moved in time. The Advisor stated that given the nature of COVID-19, extra precautions were being taken. The Divisional Commissioner stated that the number of designated stores would be soon raised to a hundred.
Members also raised the issue of transportation of apples stored in various CA Stores to various Fruit Markets. The Hon’ble Advisor was informed that around 75,000 MTS of apples was waiting to be transported and a dedicated corridor was urgently needed. The timings of the Azadput Fruit Mandi which was the main market for the produce were also required to be extended to more practical hours. The closure of local Cardboard and Plywood units and it’s impact on the local horticulture industry was also discussed. A appropriate revisit of demand charges payable to the Power Development Department, rent charges of SIDCO/SICOP was also urged.
Representatives of the Houseboats Association raised the problems faced in repairing of the houseboats and renewal of registrations. The Hon’ble Advisor was urged that the Houseboat Owners, Shikara Walas, Tourist Taxi operators and other tourism allied sectors should be given priority while extending supporting measures. The representatives also urges for functional Bio Digestors/Common Sewage Treatment Plants in Dal and Nageen Lake.
The Advisor thanked the representatives of the Hotel Industry for making available and operationalising their properties for housing quarantine facilities. He stated that the Government was duty bound to see that the owners are adequately compensated for their efforts.
Members also drew the attention of the Hon’ble Advisor towards the damages to the embankments of the river Jhelum and also the need to regulate the levels of the Dal and Nageen Lakes by making functional all Lock Gates. Necessary directions were issued in this regard.
Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad thanked the Advisor and the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir for patiently interacting and redressing the issues of the business community.