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Kashmir faces goods shortage

Preoccupied with evaluating the possibility of holding polls in J&K, the policy makers in Srinagar and New Delhi seem to be oblivious of Kashmir’s ‘economic blockade’ entering its second stage.

, ET Bureau|
Oct 13, 2008, 03.00 AM IST
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SRINAGAR: Preoccupied with evaluating the possibility of holding polls in J&K, the policy makers in Srinagar and New Delhi seem to be oblivious of Kashmir���s ���economic blockade��� entering its second stage. This time, it���s India Inc that is being accused of stopping supplies to the Valley.

���Being manufacturer of baby foods, our company was the first to do billing from Chandigarh bypassing the Jammu C&F agent,��� says Bharat Malhotra, who distributes Nestle products in Kashmir. ���Presently, we have some stocks but if the same situation continues it may create scarcity.��� He said Nestle is willing to send supplies from non-Jammu depots, but is waiting to see ���what other MNCs will do���.

But no major company has decided to make ���outside billing��� a permanent feature till they opt for creating their C&F set up in Kashmir, the major consumer of all FMCG and pharma products in J&K. Hindustan Unilever���s Kashmir distributor Jan M Koul said: ���I am told the company is taking a decision this week. but I do not have much details.���

Some companies have resumed their supplies bypassing their C&F channels in Jammu but this all falls under ���one time billing��� (supplying from non-designed spots) it has not been made a permanent feature. Javed A Mughal, who heads Kashmir���s Distributors and Stockist���s (FMCG) Association, said: ���Proctor & Gamble has resumed supplies from Chandigarh. We also received the confectionery items from Preffti using their Gurgaon centre. Parleys is also managing its demand from Zerakpore, Punjab. Many more are willing to do it.���

But most of these consignments, according to Mughal, cross Lakhinpur-Ramban belt during nights because ���certain vested interests��� are creating obstacles. Mr Mughal told ET that few people in Jammu, who fear getting economically hit by Kashmir���s decision to have its own C&F facilities for the goods it consumes, have threatened the companies to destroy their supplies, boycott their goods and set fire to their Jammu depots. ���We are meeting senior government officials on Monday to seek security to the goods that come to Kashmir,��� he said.

Almost every FMCG and pharma major had its C&F agent in Srinagar till the militancy broke out. For reasons of security and working conditions, most of the C&F offices, like central government offices, were moved to Jammu. A C&F agent gets rent for the facility and 2.5% handling charges besides creating hundreds of jobs.

No one tried to disturb this system till Kashmir faced the ���economic blockade��� this summer (officially termed temporary disruption of traffic on highway) after the row over Amarnath land transfer. After the crisis was over, Kashmir boycotted the Jammu manufacturers and other goods supplied from the summer capital.
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