Ambala merchants unite, seek opening of road, rail routes at Shambhu

Merchant organisations from Ambala got together to demand the opening of road and rail routes near Shambhu barrier on Haryana-Punjab border, which have been blocked by agitating farmers.

Representatives of various merchant's association holding letters written to Chief Justice of High Court and Election Commission of India, in Ambala. (HT File)Representatives of various merchant's association holding letters written to Chief Justice of High Court and Election Commission of India, in Ambala. (HT File)

It has been nearly 75 days since the farmers, marching towards Delhi to get legal guarantee on MSP, blocked the Shambhu barrier, and 10 days since they laid siege to the Ambala-Ludhiana rail track near the site.

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At a press conference, the merchants - from the old cloth market, Maharaja Agrasen Chowk market, Kalka Chowk market, Sarafa Bazaar, Mixi industries, electronic industry, hotel and banquet industry, and others, said they bearing the brunt of the agitation. "We had already borne huge losses due to the pandemic-induced lockdown. We were then hit by the 2023 floods and now the farmers' agitation is affecting our business," they said.

The Ambala cloth market, which has nearly 1,000 shops spread across the old cloth market, Maharaja Agrasen chowk and Kalka Chowk, is said to be one of the largest in Asia, having an annual turnover of over INR2,000 crore. Vishal Batra, president of the cloth market association, has written to the Election Commission of India and Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, on behalf of all the merchants, stressing that the agitation has totally cut-off the Ambala City Cloth Market and paralysed the modes of transportation for Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi. Batra said that at the cloth market, the goods are imported from Maharashtra and other states that are further exported to Punjab, Himachal, and nearby states, but most of the stock is lying at New Delhi due to the farmers' blockade.

"Besides the goods to be exported are also lying at Ambala City, fetching no returns and instead causing losses to wholesalers and retailers who spent money on transportation etc. An amicable solution has to be taken at the earliest to prevent us from starvation," he added. Rakesh Makkar, an industrialist, said that there are 10,000 families dependent on the cloth market and over 20,000 employees engaged with it.

"We make wires and related items. Due to the closure of the border, our customers from Punjab have shifted to local producers. Even those from Rajpura, that is 20 minutes away, have refused orders as it takes nearly two hours to reach the destination now due to the blockade," Makkar said over phone.

Besides this, the railways has also incurred huge losses due to the 'Rail Roko' agitation.

Officials of the Ambala railway division said that so far, over 2,000 passenger and goods trains have been affected on the route, including 800 cancellations of mail/express and passenger trains.


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