‘Kashmir economy is in bad shape’
Srinagar: It is now the 13th running month that Kashmir valley is without any normal business as now the lockdown of Covid-19 is going on for the past five months. Business establishments were closed in the first week of August last year, when the government clamped down in Kashmir valley with complete halt to normal life for months.
A Kashmir Trade Alliance (KTA)leader told this newspaper that as per their estimate, the losses only due tothe Covid-19 lockdown are to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore. Their data has raised question marks on the foresight and wisdom of bureaucrats handling Kashmir, as they have been only re-imposing lockdown after a few days of relaxation.
The KTA said the lockdown had not led to a decrease in Covid-19 positive cases and, therefore, the government should relax the clampdown. “In the first phase of the lockdown, shops, businesses and shopping malls remained closed for three running months in Kashmir valley. During this period, the number of cases still increased,” said Tariq Shah, a shopkeeper on Boulvard road. “In the second phase, shops in Srinagar and other districts were kept closed for 20 consecutive days, but even during that period, the number of coronavirus cases increased,” said Abdul Rashid Bhat, a shopkeeper in Dalgate.
“Every sector—education, business, health, tourism and industries—has suffered in Jammu and Kashmir. In the past 13 months, we have remained mostly indoors, courtesy government announcements. No stimulus package or financial intervention so far may force us to come on streets,” said Talib Hussain, one of members of the business community in Srinagar. Like Talib Hussain, most of his colleagues are seething with anger due to the continuous announcements by police asking them to close their shops and business establishments in Srinagar due to Covid-19. “They closed everything in Kashmir in the past five months, saying that otherwise Covid-19 will spread. Even after five months of lockdown, daily positive cases are going up. People are dying in the hospitals for lack of care and oxygen. The new L-G should fix responsibility and punish the officers responsible for such a mess in Kashmir,” said Bashir Ahmad Laway, who runs a business establishment in Srinagar which had remained closed for 13 months now.
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry has termed the indefinite lockdown of business establishments in Kashmir, especially in Srinagar, “as a serious infringement on the rights of the business community to earn a livelihood”. KCCI in a press statement on Thursday said that they have extended full cooperation along with common people to the district administration of Srinagar, but blamed the district magistrate of running around in circles since the past five months. KCCI said that the business community of Kashmir is presently in the 13th month of disruption which has wiped out enterprises and devastated the economy.