Mutton sold at Rs 550/kg instead of Rs 400/kg, chicken at Rs 170/kg instead of Rs 100/kg
Prices of vegetables, fruits up by Rs 20-30/kg
The closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway for the past seven days has resulted in shortage of important commodities in the Valley leading to escalated prices of many essentials including medicine, petroleum, LPG and edibles like mutton, vegetables and fruits.
Even though the State administration had constituted special market-checking squads to prevent overpricing of commodities, the prices of essential commodities have sky-rocketed during the past week.
Being a meat-consuming State, mutton is being sold in retail at Rs 550/kg and chicken at Rs 170/kg.
The prices of vegetables and fruits have also increased by Rs 20/kg to Rs 30/kg after the closure of the highway.
Owing to the shortage of essentials, the divisional administration Kashmir had issued an advisory about the rationing of fuel - petrol, diesel and LPG.
Meanwhile, the business community held the highway closure responsible for the price hike.
The closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway due to inclement weather often leads to the stoppage of supplies, making goods rot on the road.
Wholesale Mutton Dealers Association President, Mehraj Ganie said during the highway closure, most of the livestock on way to Srinagar die in trucks due to cold or want of food.
“We mostly import our cattle from Punjab and are heavily dependent on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. During the highway closure, majority of cattle die on the road, incurring huge losses to our business,” Ganie said. “How will we sell mutton at same prices when we are facing huge losses.”
The situation is similar in the poultry business.
Kashmir Valley Poultry Farmers' Association President, Ghulam Muhammad Bhat said the rise in prices was directly proportional to the demand-supply.
“We are incurring huge losses in our imports and whatever little supply we receive, it is obvious that there will be price rise,” he said.
Bhat said 70 percent of their birds die on the highway.
“We mostly import chicken from Haryana and the birds were supposed to reach the Valley within 16-17 hours. However, getting stranded on the highway for days together, most of them die on the way,” he said.
According to the recently-released government figures, J&K imported goods and raw material worth Rs 58,050 crore in 2017-18 of which around Rs 34,800 crore (60 percent), was imported to Kashmir division.
Chairman of Kashmir Fruit and Vegetable Dealers Association, Bashir Ahmad Bashir also blamed the highway closure for escalation in fruit and vegetable prices.
“Price escalation is not in our hands. If someone has to be blamed for it, it is the government. Each year we have to bear huge losses as most of our fruit gets rotten on the road due to highway blockage,” he said. “When there is no supply, retailers increase the prices of vegetables.”
The shortage of essential commodities within a week of the closure of highway is a slap on the face of the government that every year, ahead of the onset of winters, claims to have enough stock of essentials that would last a complete winter.
The Logistics Ease Across Different States (LEADS) Index has given only one index point to J&K, placing it at the bottom of the list of states having “worst logistic” connectivity in India.
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President, Sheikh Ashiq said they often pleaded before successive governments to either fix this road permanently or provide an alternative “but to no avail”.
“Apart from incurring huge losses and rise in prices of essential commodities, the highway closure has now led to law and order problems,” Ashiq said. “It is unfortunate how stranded people in Jammu were treated on Monday.”
On Monday, the rightwing activists in Jammu pelted stones at the stranded Kashmiri passengers while shopkeepers started charging Rs 50 from them for charging their phone once.