Business community mulls to air freight fresh fruit from Kashmir due to frequent Highway blockade

apple-agenciesSrinagar: The business community of Kashmir is mulling to airlift perishable items including apple and cherry to avoid massive losses owing to frequent blockade of highway due to landslides and weekly ban on traffic for movement of convoy.

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries, a conglomerate of business establishments in Valley has set up a committee, who are in touch with the cargo lifters and fruit traders to finalize the plan.

The NH-44 is the only connecting link between Srinagar and Jammu and thus remains arterial road for business and movement of public transport. The Highway has remained closed for most of the time in past few months due to landslides and government’s recent decision to ban the traffic movement for two days every week for movement of convoy, which was later reduced to one day.

“We are talking with cargo lifters and explore maximum possibilities. There is need to send our perishable items out of Valley as soon as possible otherwise we will suffer losses,” KCCI president Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad told ET. He informed that the rates quoted by the cargo lifters were workable but the business community has to assure the carriers of a ‘definite load’ so that they can fly Cargo planes from Srinagar.

“This highway is giving bad times to us. It is not dependable. We are immediately concerned about Cherry, which would be ready to export in few weeks,” said Ashiq.

The business community is also exploring the ways to make the Cargo lifting of perishables a regular affair, so that the traders can also import items, which will help to regulate the price rise as well.

“If Cargo lifters see a business opportunity, they will definitely agree for In and Out service from Srinagar,” said Ashiq adding, “We are preparing a detailed document on this in a week or ten days.” The fruit traders are also concerned about the apple stored in cold storage, which is ready to be sent to markets outside the Valley.

“Our trucks get stuck on highway frequently because of which fruit gets damaged. It is better if we have to pay a little extra but fruit reaches the markers in time,” Ghulam Ahmad, an apple farmer from Shopian told ET.