By Firdous Hassan
Srinagar, Jun 05: Nearly a decade after trade started between India and Pakistan through the Line of Control (LoC), the state-based traders say it has failed to boost the state’s economy in absence of the infrastructure and basic facilities.
The traders claim the initiative, a part of the Confidence Building Measures between India and Pakistan, has remained stagnant in terms of the facilities, forcing scores of the businessmen to disassociate.
The Kashmir and Jammu-based business chambers have submitted a memorandum to the government in unison, seeking enhancement in the facilities and removal of the bottlenecks.
The business chambers have highlighted that the barter system in the trade coupled with the lack of banking facilities have left them to face financial risks and lack of clarity in the business.
“The existing system of barter trade comes with the challenges including lack of clarity on the value of goods, high financial risks and unnecessary harassment by the government agencies on the pretext of non-clarity of financial transactions,” the memorandum said.
“One of the best solutions would be to create branches of J&K Bank and PaK Bank on the opposite sides of the LoC, with fixation of rate between India and Pakistani currency on monthly basis,” it said.
The Jammu Chamber of Industries and Commerce (JCCI) and Kashmir Chamber of Industries and Commerce (KCCI) claimed that most of the traded items had no buyers on both the sides of the LoC.
“The list of items for trade was defined when the trade was initiated in 2008. However, many items had no buyers. While the Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) indicated that the list of goods be reviewed quarterly, the SOP is violated even in the 21 allotted items,” the memorandum said.
The traders in the memorandum have also highlighted the issue of restriction on travel and face -to-face meeting with counterparts.
“A significant majority of the traders had not a chance to travel across the LoC. The lack of interactions and conducting market research has limited the trade prospectus. Both the governments have to arrange meeting at LoC to settle accounts and exchange information,” the memorandum said.
The trade along the LoC has already shown a steep decline during 2017, with export and import falling by more than 50 and 31 per cent, respectively, compared to 2016.
As per the figures by state government, the state has exported 3,92,500.33 quintals of goods valuing Rs 304 crore during previous.
The figure is nearly half of the quantity exported in 2016, which the survey reveals was 7,39,034.47 quintals valuing Rs 527 crore.
Similarly, the import of goods too has shown decline during 2017, when 1,04,949.70 quintals worth Rs 252.90 crore were imported compared to 3,30,676.70 quintals valuing Rs858.17 crore in 2016.
Upcoming snow spell: Avalanche warning issued for Kashmir, Ladakh districts
Srinagar, Jan 19: Kashmir areas experienced fresh snowfall on Saturday, with the weather office forecasting more in store for the next three days.
“A western disturbance (WD) is presently active over the state under whose influence moderate to heavy snowfall is likely to occur in the valley till January 23 after which the intensity of the WD will start decreasing,” a Met Department official said here.
District administrations have set up helplines to help prevent any untoward incident due to the heavy snowfall.
Meanwhile Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan Saturday issued fresh avalanche warning for nine avalanche prone districts of Kashmir division.
The warning has been issued for the avalanche-prone areas of district Anantnag, Kulgam, Budgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Kargil and Leh.
As per the hand out, the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir has directed the Deputy Commissioners of all these districts to advise the people living in avalanche prone areas not to venture out to avoid the loss of lives.
The Div Com also directed the concerned DC’s to take all the precautionary measures and to keep the SDRF, Police and Para-medical staff with ambulances in readiness to avert any untoward incident.
While the nightlong cloud cover increased minimum temperatures throughout the valley on Saturday, the maximum temperatures are expected to drop further, the weather official said.
Srinagar recorded minus 2.0 degrees Celsius, Pahalgam minus 4.4 and Gulmarg minus 7.0 as the minimum temperatures.
Leh town had minus 9.2 degrees Celsius and Kargil minus 18.9 as the night’s lowest temperature.
Jammu city recorded 8.3 degrees Celsius, Katra 9.1, Batote 3.9, Bannihal 2.3 and Bhaderwah 1.3 as the minimum temperatures.
UN clearly did its job: Guterres on Kashmir human rights report
United Nations: United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday hoped that India and Pakistan will engage in a “meaningful dialogue” to resolve their issues.
The UN chief also said he has been offering his “good offices in relation to the dialogue between the two countries that, until now, had no conditions of success.”
Guterres was speaking to reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.
“I hope that the importance of both India and Pakistan is such in international affairs, I hope that the two countries will be able to engage in a meaningful dialogue,” he said.
The UN chief was responding to a question on his repeated urging of dialogue between the two South Asian neighbours.
In relation to the human rights situation, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has produced recently a very detailed report. So, the UN has clearly done its job in that regard, Guterres said to a question by a Pakistan journalist on the situation in Kashmir.
Day after grenade attack, forces conduct search op in Lal Chowk
Srinagar: A joint search operation was launched by the forces and police in the commercial Hub Lal Chowk area of Srinagar on Saturday.
The search came a day after the grenade attack took place in the locality, which left a vehicle and windowpanes of some shops damaged.
Witnesses said that a large contingent of police and paramilitary troopers were deployed near the Clock Tower here while the frisking was also intensified.
They said that drones too were used during the operation.
However, a top police official said that it was a routine exercise ahead of upcoming Republic Day.