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EXCLUSIVE: CRIPPLING SUPPLY CHAIN IN JAMMU & KASHMIR

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Economy hurt, Kashmiri apple loses sheen

Kashmir’s apple traders and growers were expecting to earn exceedingly well in this season as the imposition of 20% retaliatory tariff on US imported apples had made Kashmiri apple’s rate more competitive in markets. However, their hopes dashed on August 5 when the Union government surprisingly abrogated Article 370 and announced to turn the state into a union territory. Restriction on movements, communication blackout and shutdown of apple market put cascading effect on J&K’s supply chain leaving hundreds of trucks idle waiting for the apple harvest. Logistics Insider presents a report on the current scenario by speaking with several stakeholders and supply chain companies based in J&K.

Noor Mohammad Dar, a civilian trucker, had taken up cudgels to take upon the halted transport services in the tensed Anantnag district. On August 25, Dar a resident of Zardipora was killed while sitting inside the cabin of a truck in stone-pelting in Bijbehara locality.

The Jammu and Kashmir police in a release said: “The stone pelters pelted stones on the truck bearing registration JK-03-F-2540 taking it as a security vehicle. The stone pierced the pane and injured the driver in his head.”

Dar was taken to SKIMS, Soura Srinagar where he was declared brought dead. Police arrested the accused within hours of the incident.

Apart from the political and civilian crisis that is being reported in the media, the clampdown has crippled the INR 1.2 lakh crore worth economy of Jammu and Kashmir.

Noor Mohammad Dar became prey to a fate which truckers and logistics operators fear to even think about.

THE STRUGGLE

Kulbir Singh (name changed), a resident of Ferozepur Punjab, had made his way to Baramulla district before Eid-Al-Adha after August 5. It was on August 5 when the Union government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi abrogated the special category status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir by reading down Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.

In the absence of digital communication, Singh had no means of reaching out to his local dealer, it took him several hours to get a location. Even after locating his dealer he did not get a penny for transport, as the dealer did not have any.

Still, to keep the business-bond, witnessing the plight of residents scouring for supplies, Kulbir decided to unload the goods and came back with the promise of getting a payment once the situation gets normalised.

For Kulbir, Eid-Al-Adha was one of the annual business trips that garnered him money but with the logistics crippled and people out of trade in the valley, he returned empty-handed.

The local administration along with the government has however been claiming that there is no shortage of supplies and steps have been taken in a calibrated manner.

In contrast to the official claims, Chamber of Traders Federation (CTF), Jammu has demanded from the union government to provide a dedicated corridor to transport Kashmiri apple and other perishable items from Kashmir to Jammu for smooth flow of goods.

Neeraj Anand, CTF President, at a press conference said: “We demand a dedicated corridor to ship apples and other perishable items from Kashmir zone to Jammu. We will offer all help to government agencies besides distressed valley traders in streamlining business operations.”

The supply chain stakeholders fear heavy losses if fruit-laden trucks get stranded on the way to markets outside the state, where most of the output is consumed. A truck stranded on the road for a couple of days could devalue an apple consignment by 30%-50% as the produce is highly perishable.

Jatin Bhat, Director of SendEx couriers and cargo in Jammu said: “We supply walnuts, apple, spices, dried pomegranate seeds, handicraft items. All the supply comes from Srinagar and some parts of Jammu region. Partial trade is going from Jammu region but Srinagar is facing challenges in supply thereby affecting the local dealers and logistics as well.”

“We are expecting that supply chain in the Jammu area will come back to complete normalcy within a couple of weeks which is presently moving at snail’s pace………

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