LEH: To protest against the recent raids conducted by the GST team, Leh observed a shutdown on Sunday.
The shutdown was called by all political, religious and trade organisations unanimously alleging that the sudden visit of GST team to Leh for enforcement of the GST regime has caused lots of confusion and extreme harassment to the local traders, hoteliers and other members of business community.
All concerned stakeholders earlier held an emergency meeting in this regard.
The meeting was reportedly attended by MP Ladakh Thupstan Chhewang, CEC, LAHDC, Leh Dorjay Motup, MLA, Leh Nawang Rigzin Jora, Chairman, Ladakh Tourist Trade Alliance P.T Kunzang, Vice President Merchant Association, leaders of different religious communities, president and executive members of All Ladakh Tour Operators Association (ALTOA), president and executive members of All Ladakh Hotel and Guest House Association, president Contractor Association, and representatives of Tourist Transporters.
Ladakh traders cited various problems and difficulties faced by the people of Ladakh on account of many issues including the region remaining cut-off from the rest of the country for major part of the year due to closure of all access roads.
The general economic activities in the region remain confined to merely 4-5 months in a year. Another major problem, according to Ladakhi trader community, faced by the local trade and service sector is that they have to stock all kinds of trading and developmental materials in bulk for nearly six months in advance before the onset of winter, thus blocking capital and loan funds involving huge interest burden. They argued that due to the extreme climatic and geographical conditions of Ladakh region, the cost of living is perhaps among the highest in the country. The cost of basic provisions such as vegetables, grains, oil condiments etc become very high due to long period stocking costs. Whatever little savings made during the brief period of trade and economic activity are consumed during the long lay-off period of 6-7 months.
“Even when the roads are open for a few months, the distance from the nearest supply markets such as Jammu and Srinagar are so long that the goods, commodities and other building and developmental material become very expensive because of the heavy transportation costs, breakage in transit and a very high transportation time leading to higher costs,” Chairman Ladakh Tourist Trade Alliance P.T Kunzang said. He added that due to long road distances and heavy transportation costs, the cost of services and trade escalate tremendously, thus adversely affecting the revenue margins and savings from such economic activities.
Ladakhi business community also alleged that the air connectivity to Ladakh is the costliest in the country. The average cost of cargo transport to Ladakh is about Rs 80 per kilogram. Moreover, cargo space is rarely available due to poor availability of air capacity and limited number of flights, the informed.
According to Ladakh Tourist Trade Alliance, accessibility within the region from the regional centre Leh to different sub-regions and blocks involves travelling and transportation for a minimum of 150 – 400 Kms.
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