Jammu-Srinagar road blockage sparks scarcity of essential commodities in Kashmir
- Prices of many vegetables have doubled while Srinagar's biggest fruit and vegetable market at Parimpora has exhausted its stock.
Stocks of many essential commodities and food items in Kashmir, particularly in Srinagar, have depleted pushing the prices of vegetables and fruits up as the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway remained closed for the fourth day on Thursday after a bridge wall collapsed at Ramban on January 10.
The closure came on the heels of a six-day shutdown of the highway following heavy snowfall between January 3 and 8.
On the evening of January 10, just two days after the highway was opened following the heavy snowfall across Jammu and Kashmir, a retaining wall of the bridge at Kela Morh in Ramban collapsed prompting another highway closure.
Officials said that it will still take two weeks for the repair and they are currently working on a Bailey bridge to facilitate temporary resumption of traffic.
The extended closure of the highway has depleted the stock of vegetables and fruits in the Valley for which the highway is the only all weather surface link with the rest of the country.
The biggest fruit and vegetable market of the city at Parimpora has exhausted its stock.
“Parimpora Mandi is empty now. There is no stock of perishable items in this whole sale market. Whatever surplus like onions and potatoes we had after the snowfall has almost finished,” said Bashir Ahmad Bashir, President of the Parimpora Mandi and chairman of Kashmir Fruit Growers cum Dealers Union.
He said that whatever little is left is with the retailers that are being sold at very high rates. “At this time we mostly get our vegetables from outside because it is winter time with no local production,” he said.
He said that hundreds of fruit laden trucks on the way to Jammu were also stranded on the highway.
The prices of vegetables like onion have almost doubled while meat is also in short supply.
“The vegetables are also in short supply. Onions are ₹70 per kg while potatoes are ₹50. Peas are not available. People are now mostly relying on locally produced Haakh and turnips. The highway is still feared to be closed for another 10 days. Let’s see how much we will sustain,” said Mohammad Amin, a grocery and vegetable seller in Srinagar’s Old City.
Director Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department Kashmir, Bashir Khan said that the valley has enough stock of food grains to last for two months, gas for 15 days, petrol and diesel for 8-10 days. He conceded that there is less quantity of these things in the market and if in a few more days they get depleted further, the people should opt for dry vegetables.
“What can be done we have to bear with the system till the highway is opened. Although we still have availability of green leafed vegetables, if there is scarcity after a few days, we should change our food taste,” he said.
He said there are examples of snow-locked places like Karnah and Tanghdar. “They switch over to dry vegetables,” he said.
Manzoor Ahmed Mir, Superintendent of Police (Traffic), Rural Kashmir said over 8,500 vehicles including empty and fruit laden trucks were stranded on the Kashmir side of the highway. “Most of these drivers are spending their nights in their vehicles,” he said.
The minimum temperatures in Kashmir have been plunging to records levels. Srinagar recorded minus 8.5 degree Celsius on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday, lowest to be recorded in January in the past 25 years.
Jatinder Singh Johar,SSP Traffic, National Highway in Ramban, said that the work on the repair of the wall as well as on the construction of a Bailey bridge was underway.
“The actual bridge will take 10-15 days to be motorable as it takes time for the concrete to set in. The BRO is also working on the Bailey bridge and let’s see how much time it will take,” Johar said.
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