_____________2008 to 2016 __________
How creations of Kashmir’s mainstream politicians make 1.25 crore people bleed through their nose
After death, Burhan Wani caused Rs 16,000 crore loss to Kashmir's economy
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Jan 10: The Jammu and Kashmir Government’s most authentic official document, Economic Survey 2016, released by Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu in Legislative Assembly here on Tuesday, makes a bizarre admission of the near-total breakdown of all activities of growth and development in the second year of the PDP-BJP regime. For the first time, it was officially revealed on the floor of the Legislature that the upheaval created by the Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8, 2016, had caused damage worth Rs 16,000 crore to the Valley’s economy.
Wani became a militant in Omar Abdullah’s regime in 2010-11 when some Policemen associated with counterinsurgency operations in Tral area allegedly maltreated with him and other teenagers. During Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s regime in 2015, politicians and media in competition created him as an “icon and inspiration” for the Valley’s new generation of the youth. A many of the mainstream politicians, including Ministers, MLAs, MLCs and MPs glorified Wani as a “hero” until his death and thereafter began eulogising him as a “martyr”. Paradoxically, these mainstream politicians are on oath to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India and this country's Constitution. Burhan treated them as "traitors" and "Indian agents" and claimed to be struggling for Kashmir's separation from India and establishment of Caliphate.
Birth of the PDP-BJP coalition in March 2015 frittered away entire enthusiasm of the Jammu and Kashmir’s best held Parliamentary and Assembly elections, in 2014, and lent a fresh lease of life to political uncertainty and the badly marginalised separatist politics and armed insurgency. Massarat Alam’s release by Mufti Sayeed’s government, followed by permission to a massive pro-Pakistan demonstration on Srinagar Airport Road in reception of the separatist hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, witnessed hundreds of youths abandoning their studies and picking up guns and stones — something almost completely forgotten after failure of Alam’s 2010 turmoil.
In a week of his taking over as Chief Minister, Mufti freed Alam on March 8, 2015. With their honour of reception to Geelani, in front of the Police Headquarters, on April 15, 2015, followed by a similar demonstration in Tral four days after Burhan's brother Khalid got killed in an encounter between militants and Army, Alam and his associates revived pro-Pakistan euphoria in a big way. Even as Alam was re-arrested under BJP’s pressure, Burhan carried the mantle while dominating newspapers, television channels and social media with his jihadist slogans and naked-face videos. Soon he discovered himself turning into a “role model” and inspiration for many of the Valley’s youths in schools and colleges. His death created yet another take of the turbulence Kashmir had witnessed in 2008 and 2010.
Ironically, even in 2008, when the two PDP Ministers, namely Qazi Mohammad Afzal and Tariq Hamid Karra, created a street turmoil with allotment of a piece to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board and Mufti Sayeed brought down Ghulam Nabi Azad’s government, the Valley had forgotten militants and marginalised the separatists. It was none other than Mufti and is PDP who brought down Ghulam Nabi Azad's coalition and unleashed a new era of political instability that comes intermittently knocking on the Government's doors with different intervals. Later, over one hundred people got killed and hundreds injured in street clashes and demonstrations in the summer of 2010.
“…the prolonged cycles of unrest since 2008 have become a new normal in the social, political and economic life of Jammu and Kashmir resulting into highly adverse impact on economic growth and infrastructural development”, Drabu’s Economic Survey admits. “Since June 2008, there have been four cycles of unrest — Amarnath land row, Shopian ‘rape and murder’ case (2009), 2010’s summer turmoil and the latest unrest following killing of Hizb militant Burhan Wani — adversely hampering the delivery of public services and drastically slowing down the development expenditure”, it records.
The Survey reveals: “The general estimates of the losses caused due to the unrest are estimated at more than Rs 16,000 crore over a period of 5 months from 8th July 2016 to 30th November 2016. The cost of security related expenditure is over and above the losses caused due to unrest of 2016 in J&K State”.
“The continuous hartals, stone throwing and curfews have resulted in loss of tourist season, loss of working season, about 116 days out of total working season of 180 days (may to October) in 2016. Thus about 64% of the tourist and working season has been lost”, says the Economic Survey.
“Tourist season in Kashmir valley starts from April and lasts up to October, thus making season of 7 months. During 2015-16, the number of tourists who had visited the Valley stood at 6,23,932 including 2,20,490 Amarnath Yatris. The tourist season had started during 2016 in April and was in full swing upto end of 7th July, 2016. The remaining about 4 months (24 days of July, August, September and October) remained completely tense and registered closure of all activities due to turmoil in almost zero arrival of tourists in the Valley”, it added.
The Survey details how the tourism revenue of Rs 32.45 crore of Quarter-1 (April, May, June) came drastically down to Rs 1.84 crore in the Quarter-2 (July, August, September) in Kashmir valley in 2016-17. As compared to Q-1 of the year 2015-16, tourism revenue had remarkably gone up in Q-1 of 2016-16. While as it was Rs 19.13 crore in Q-1 and Rs 9.37 crore in Q-2 of 2015-16, it went up to Rs 32.45 crore in Q-1 of 2016-17 but dipped to a paltry Rs 1.85 crore in Q-2 after Wani’s death. The State Cable Car Corporation alone had earned record revenue of Rs 31.62 crore in April, May and June of 2016 but it nosedived to Rs 1.67 crore in July, August and September.
“The estimated loss suffered by Industry during hartals/curfews (130 days) is of the order of Rs 13,291 crore comprising of Rs 6,548 crore of private sector and Rs 6,713 crore of Govt sector”, says the Survey. “In addition to the above, some Jammu-based SSI units have also suffered production losses due to turmoil in the Valley. The turnover loss has been reported as Rs 1,800 crore and revenue loss as Rs 275 crore”.
The Survey attributes cumulative economic losses of Jammu and Kashmir to the “political conflict” and draws a comparison between the turbulent J&K and the peaceful Himachal Pradesh, making clear how the neighbouring State’s businesses and economy are flourishing every year.
According to the Survey, J&K’s area is 1.01 lakh square kilometre and population 1.25 crore souls. HP is spread on 0.56 lakh sq km and has population of 68.65 lakh souls. Both the States have Himalayan mountain terrain and 20% each Forest cover. In 2015-16, HP’s GSDP (Constant prices) has been Rs 95,929 crore while as it was only 91,806 crore in J&K. While as 1.75 crore tourists visited HP, only 92.03 lakh (including Vaishno Devi and Amarnath pilgrims) visited J&K. As against HP’s 4.06 lakh foreigners, only 29,000 foreign tourists visited J&K.
As regards the power sector, HP and J&K have hydroelectric generation potential of 20,000 mw each. While as HP is generating 6,370 mw (revised estimate 10,264 mw), J&K’s harnessed capacity currently is not more than 3,220 mw. HP has 503 units of Medium and Large industrial units compared to only 86 in J&K.
While as HP’s GSDP (at constant prices 2011-12) for 2015-16 is Rs 95, 929 crore and per capita income (NSDP 2015-16) is Rs 1,11,977, it is only Rs 91,806 crore and Rs 57,858 respectively in J&K.