Srinagar: Cricket bat makers have suffered a loss of Rs 1,000 crore due to the back-to-back lockdowns since August last year.
Kashmir’s bat Industry missed two peak business season in the last one year. It started with a four-month-long shutdown after the abrogation of Article 370. Now COVID-19 lockdown ended being the last nail in the coffin.
Manufacturers had resumed their activities with the hope of bumper sale this year given the steady line up of tournaments including T20 World Cup and IPL.
Since both these events have been postponed, the manufacturers said they have not received any fresh orders from any state.
“I estimate the losses crossed Rs 1000 crore. We had expected bumper sales given the T20 world cup and IPL. All our hopes have been dashed to the ground,” said President Cricket Bat Manufacturers Association, Nazir Ahmad Salroo.
What is troubling the manufacturers is the wear and tear of the raw material and finished bats in their godowns.
“The colour of the finished wood and its quality is getting affected in the godowns. We would manufacture cricket bats according to the demand. This year the production targets were already met considering the tournaments,” Salroo said.
The manufacturers are now looking for alternative businesses to sustain since the cricket bats have no demand in the national and international markets.
“We would export cricket bats to Gujarat and Mumbai. However, the situation is such that we have to switch over to other business to sustain,” said Sajad Ahmad, another manufacturer.
According to Department of Industry and Commerce, there are 400 cricket bat manufacturing units functional in the south Kashmir region. Of which 200 units are operational in Anantnag and 180 others in Pulwama. As many as 32 lakh cricket bats are exported from Kashmir to other states annually.
Despite the superior wood quality, the price of the Kashmiri willow bat ranges between Rs 250 to 1200. The English willow, which is mostly used by national and international players, however, is sold at Rs 35,000 to 50,000.
Director Industries and Commerce Department Mahmood Ahmad Shah said they are supporting local entrepreneurs to promote their products.
“We will support them and proper marketing will be done for the Kashmir willow. They too will have to work hard to flourish the industry,” he said.