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.
Voter turnout in Bijbehara, Anantnag a lesson for Mehbooba : Omar
Kulgam, Apr 24: Jammu and Kashmir National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Wednesday said that the low voter turnout in Anantnag and Bijbehara is a lesson for PDP and Mehbooba Mufti.
He asserted that the ensuing elections are significant since it provides the people of the state an opportunity to reveal how passionately they feel about their identity including Art370, Art 35-A.
Addressing two separate public meets at Chawalgam and Homeshalibug, Kulgam party vice president said that the threats of BJP-RSS to abrogate Art 370, Art 35A will be defeated as the people of the state will not allow them succeed in their nefarious designs. “ Today state is facing an assault on its special status from all sides, however all the machinations of the forces as are inimical to our status will fall flat if the people of our state show resoluteness in protecting the identity and integrity of our state. This time people across the state have taken it upon themselves to trounce the efforts as are hell bent to destroy the special constitutional status of the state,” he said adding, “Today’s elections is not about choosing MLA’s, today our state is fraught with a challenging situation. The need of the hour is to send a representative to Parliament who can fight for the interests of state, the situation that the state is facing today demands of having a credible voice at Delhi who can work tireless both within and outside parliament for the protection of Art 370, Art 35-A. Seeing the scope of work and the challenges we are facing, we considerately fielded Retired Justice Hasnain Sb from Anantnag constituency. He is known for his pronounced judgments on Art 370, Art 35 A. He boasts the necessary political and legal acumen to deal with the situation.”
While highlighting the importance of Art 370, Art 35 A, Omar said, “It is needless to say how important Art 370, Art 35-A are for the state and its people. Today the people of our state are masters of its own land. They work on their land, and derive their sustenance from it. God forbid, if these articles are done away with, the consequences that will follow shall be beyond our comprehension. The people of the state will stop to cleave to a respectable denomination which Sher- e- Kashmir bestowed upon them through famous land to tiller reforms and other people friendly measures. Our kids would not be able to derive various scholarships from government. The youth of our state will cease to be the sole beneficiary of jobs in government sector. Keeping in mind the far-reaching consequences of abrogation of our status, we deemed it fit to have Hasnain Masoodi represent us in parliament from Anantnag.”
Mehbooba demands release of Yasin Malik
Srinagar, Apr 24: Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday demanded the release of separatist leader Yasin Malik.
“Yasin Malik should be released immediately as he is really unwell. Also other members of Jamaat-e-Islami should be released. Sadhvi Pragya on whom there are several serious accusations has been set free,” Mufti said.
Delhi’s Patiala House Court Wednesday sent Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Yasin Malik to judicial custody till May 24 in connection with a 2017 alleged funding case.
Mehbooba also lodged a note of protest against a slew of measures brought about in the valley recently.
“After the encounter, families of militants are harassed and the cross LoC trade which was taking place through Muzaffarabad has also been stopped. The National Highway is closed for traffic for two days in a week and security forces are interfering in the daily life of people. We are protesting against all these issues,” she said.
Elections in the state are staggered in five phases which began on April 11 and culminate on May 6. The counting of votes will be done on May 23.
Rains lash Kashmir; weather to improve from today
Srinagar, Apr 24: Rains continued to lash Kashmir since Tuesday evening, bringing the average temperature down in the valley.
The local meteorological department predicted improvement in weather conditions from Thursday evening.
The rains began on Tuesday evening and continued intermittently till this evening. The rains in the Valley led to dip in the temperature.
Deputy Director MeT, Mukhtar Ahmad said that the weather conditions in Kashmir would improve from Thursday evening.
He said the light rainfall would continue intermittently till Thursday evening following which there will be improvement in the weather.
Ahmad said that in plains the weather would improve from Thursday afternoon while in higher reaches it will start improving from the evening.
Meanwhile, an official in Meteorological department informed that Srinagar recorded a minimum temperature of 12.0 degrees Celsius Tuesday night against 8.9 degrees Celsius normal for this time of the season.
The summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir received 3.9 mm of rain since overnight till 8:30 hours, he said.
The official said that Qazigund, the gateway town of Kashmir, recorded a low of 10.8 degrees Celsius and had a rainfall of 6.8 mm while the mercury in Kokernag town in south Kashmir settled at a low of 9.2 degrees Celsius and it had 8.6 mm of rains during the time.