Whither Economy

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After Delhi started ruling Jammu and Kashmir through the governor, the only thing that is dominating the entire discourse is the election to the local bodies and the panchayats. There hasn’t been any intervention or attention to some of the key sectors, especially the economic activity.

After the BJPDP government crumbled under its own weight, there was a hope that the Delhi’s visual media will change the slant it usually has in its Kashmir coverage. Stakeholders, especially in the hospitality sector were expecting that the central government will directly take up the issue with the honchos of these organisations and suggest them to contribute in improving the footfalls to Kashmir. That has not happened at all.

Another season has concluded and the improvements have not been noteworthy. The footfalls have perennially been disrupted during early summer and the trend continues till the autumn. Now the summer has gone and one complete circle is over. There must be very serious efforts in attempting a better footfall during the fall and the winter. Since the governor’s policymakers are right now working without any political intervention, they must feel encouraged to have the best of their thought process in helping revive a moribund economy that has a huge cascading impact of the economy of urban Kashmir. The government must use the social media to put its word across and ensure it reaches the audiences. They can plan some out of the box ways to attract tourists. Governor’s administration has an advantage because it has one of the state officers heading the department.

The other major concern right now is the apple harvest. For the next more than two months, most of the Kashmir peasantry will remain busy in harvesting, grading, re-packaging and selling their produce. It is a huge exercise and its turnover is the main mover and shaker of the peripheral economy.

While part of the apple crop is being retained in the newly development cold storage chain in Lassipora, and Sopore, most of it, however, is being driven to various mundis outside Kashmir. Most of the exported fruit goes to Delhi mundi.

Right now, the administration has an urgent requirement to ensure that the transport sector does not fleece the growers. They have one genuine reason to increase the rates because the fuel costs have gone off the roof. It will have an impact on the freight. What has been happening throughout is that the freight touches unimaginable levels in wake of impatience that the growers exhibit because of the sick highway to Jammu. The growers must get enough and adequate transport facility to take their crop out and any fleecing will impact their margins.

The governor’s administration has been too preoccupied in keeping the employees of the state happy. This is not a bad thing. The government must look towards the most pressing issue – the Jhelum, the heart line of Kashmir. Though almost seven lakh cubic feet of the sand has been removed from the river bed, there is an urgent requirement to have a quick study about what else needs to be done. For the next five months, the river will report lowest ever discharge thus making any intervention possible. After the 2014 floods, people expected the policymakers will take serious lessons in planning and protection, the tragedy is they have continued with the earlier systems and process. This administration must start reviewing these policies that push the city to decay faster than routine.

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