Punjab’s woollen traders lose Kashmir market

August 19th, 2008 - 4:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Aug 19 (IANS) The ongoing agitation in Jammu has robbed Punjab’s woollens industry of a ready market in the Kashmir valley.”Hosiery items worth millions of rupees will be left unsold unless the government takes measures to transport woollens from Ludhiana to Jammu and Kashmir,” Gaurav Jain of the Ludhiana-based woollen knitting company Sarthik International told IANS here Tuesday.

Jain has been camping in Shimla along with other traders for several days to market stocks that he couldn’t supply to the Valley as agitators in Jammu have blocked roads in protest against the revocation of forest land allotment to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board.

Though the Jammu agitators have denied the blockade and the central government says the road to the Kashmir valley is now open, the traders are still finding it difficult to transnport their goods.

Added Sonu Kumar Bondhi, another trader from Ludhiana: “As winter ends, we start making woollen items like sweaters, jackets, shawls and caps for the next season. This time we procured a huge quantity of blankets from other states as the demand is quite good in the Kashmir valley. But the highway blockade has severely affected our business.”

Bondhi said every year, Punjab woollens traders send goods worth between Rs.2.5 million and Rs.3 million to various markets in Jammu and Kashmir by August-end. “This time, we have hardly got any order till date,” he added.

According to trader Sanjay Abrol, Punjab’s woollen merchants are doubly hit this year. “On the one hand, the woollen industry is facing the problem of marketing products in the valley; on the other, the price of dyed yarn has doubled, adding to the cost.”

Like other traders, he is also eyeing new markets in the northern states by lowering prices.

“We pray that the issue is resolved amicably, the future of thousands of people who are involved in this trade is at stake,” said Vinod Thapar, president of Ludhiana’s knitwear trade association.

According to president of the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ram Sahai, trade and industry in the Jammu region has suffered losses of a whopping Rs.57.9 billion in the wake of the land row.

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