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Continue lockdown cost Kashmir’s economy more than $1bn in last two months

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Wahid Bhat | Srinagar

Continue lockdown has cost Kashmir economy more than $1bn in two last months from August 05 this year, according to industry experts.

Since 5 August 2019, when BJP led government scrapped article 370 and article 35A besides divided the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two union Territories (UT) one is Ladkah and Jammu and Kashmir. 

Two months on, the situation is far from normal in the valley. Internet and mobile phone connections remain suspended, public transport is off the road, businesses are shut. 

There is also a shortage of labour in Kashmir valley as 400,000 migrants have left since the lockdown began from 05 August.

Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimates the shutdown has already cost the region more than $1.4bn (£1.13bn), and thousands of jobs have been lost.

But the situation may improve in the coming days as the government has announced that tourists will allowed in the state from Thursday.

“Every houseboat needs up to $7,000 a year for maintenance,” says Hamid Wangnoo from the Kashmir Houseboats Owners Association. “For many, this is the only source of livelihood.”

In southern Kashmir, the region’s famous apples are still waiting to be plucked from the trees. But shops and cold storage units are shut, and the main apple market is empty. Last year, it did business worth $197m, local farmers say.

“I feel so much pain seeing my apples hanging from the trees that I don’t go to the orchard anymore,” says a worried apple grower, who did not wish to be named.

“Apples account for 12–15% of Kashmir’s economy, but more than half of this year’s produce has not been plucked,” says economic journalist Masood Hussain. “If this continues through October, it will have devastating consequences.”

Uncertainty in Kashmir is looming large due to abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.  

All shops, business establishments, fuel refilling stations, schools are shut as Kashmir Valley is on edge since 5 August 2019, when BJP led government scrapped article 370 and article 35A besides divided the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two union Territories (UT) one is Ladkah and Jammu and Kashmir. 

Communication blockage persisted for the consecutive 65th day across the valley, reports of shutdown also purred from other parts of Kashmir valley even mainstream parties like national conference and people Democratic Party with former chief minister Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti under detention. 

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