As non-local labourers flee Kashmir, dev works brought to grinding halt

Srinagar: As non-local labourers have left Kashmir, the developmental works have been halted in the valley for the last one month.

On August 2, the government issued an advisory asking tourists and Amarnath yatris to leave the valley citing militant threats. Three days after, the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre abrogated Article 370, 35A, and bifurcated the state on August 5. Since then, the valley has been under clampdown.

 

At the same time, the non-local labourers who have been working on several developmental projects or running their own shops have left the valley. 

These days rarely any non-local labourer could be found across the Valley. 

An official of Roads and Buildings Department said at least 80 per cent of semi-skilled and skilled workforces in Kashmir are non-locals mostly from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and few other states.

“The works have been stopped on developmental projects. Construction works will be restarted only when skilled labourers are available here,” the official said.

As per rough estimates, almost five lakh labourers from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, West Bengal come to Kashmir every year to make their bread and butter.  Developmental works in Kashmir are largely dependent on these skilled labourers.

“We want outside skilled labourers to return back but they seem reluctant to come here. The work on major construction projects is not possible unless these people return to the Valley,” he said.

He said most of the works of PMGSY, Economic Reconstruction Agency, Roads and Buildings Department, cement factories, brick kilns, are largely dependent on non-local skilled labourers.  “We can’t do anything as outside labourers are reluctant to work on developmental projects under the present circumstances,” he added.

In Kashmir, over Rs 2000 crore worth projects started in the last two years are at different executions.

The government had set the target to complete almost 1800 languishing projects by end of this year.

Satish Kumar, a resident of Bihar has been working in Kashmir for the last several years.  While boarding a bus along with a group of labourers for Jammu at Tourist Reception Centre Srinagar, he said, “It is not possible to work under present circumstances. Our families are worried as we have no communications with them.”

The Kashmir has a limited working season from April to September and the region’s developmental activities are worst affected when there is some disturbance in the Valley. The non-completion of developmental works would result in affecting the economy here.

Principal Secretary, Planning and Development, Rohit Kansal, who is also JK Government Spokesperson hopes that non-local labourers would return to the Valley. “Our developmental works are largely depended upon skilled non-local labourers. The situation is limping back to the normalcy and works on developmental projects will be restarted,” Kansal said. 

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