Sikkim Chamber demands lifting of economic blockade on Highway

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Gangtok, Jun 19 (UNI) Hit hard by the NH-31-A blockade due to the Darjeeling hills bandh, the trading community of Sikkim today demanded that this 'economic blockade' must be lifted immediately to save the state from an economic meltdown.

Sikkim has been cut off for the third day due to the Darjeeling hill bandh by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM).

The bandh has crippled the 120 kms highway, the lifeline of Sikkim, which is normally bustling with movement of more than 250 trucks and 1000 passenger vehicles every day from Gangtok-Siliguri-Gangtok.

Ninety per cent of the traffic is Sikkim bound and only 10 per cent goes to the neighbouring Darjeeling hills.

''The suffering put on Sikkim is too much. Non availability of cement, iron, steel and building materials have already put its toll on construction works. Private building construction works have already stopped, said S K Sarda, president of Sikkim Chamber of Commerce.

He said that industries like Pharma, Distilleries and tea are suffering due to the bandh. Pharma industries had lately made a rush to Sikkim to exploit the advantages of the North East Industrial and Investment Promotional Policy.

''To make matter worse, the above industries have a twin problem of jammed finished products and shortage of raw materials. They have to shut down their production soon'', said Mr Sarda.

The state commerce body said the circulation of money which is so essential for the smooth operation of trade, commerce and industry will get a shock because farmers, traders and industries exporting goods will not get their payments from importers and on the other hand supplier of goods from the plains will have to face default in payment.

''Even big hydro projects will get delayed as the raw material for construction will not be flowing in. Tourism has already started feeling the pinch with empty hotels, resorts and tour operators without work'', said Mr Sarda.

''The cumulative effect of these if continued for a long time, will have a drastic effect on the overall economy of Sikkim. If the loss is counted in rupees it will be more than 10 crore per day,'' he added.

''Thus the opening of the National Highway is a must to save Sikkim and its people from the economic slowdown and suffering. This economic blockade must go,'' said Mr Sarda.


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