‘We suffer Rs 150 crore loss per day’: Kashmir traders ask govt to allow opening markets on rotational basis
Srinagar: Faced with mounting losses, Valley-based traders are ready to resume business on a rotational basis if allowed by the government.
They are hopeful that the government would take their suggestions before taking a decision on extending the period of lockdown in Kashmir.
“One day of lockdown dents Kashmir region’s economy by Rs. 150 crores and one can therefore calculate the losses suffered this year. Successive lockdowns in 2019 and 2020 dented the Kashmir region’s economy by over Rs. 45,000 crore and we cannot afford more losses. The traders by and large are willing to resume business on a rotational manner just like we had reopened during last year’s COVID lockdown. If our suggestions are sought, we will propose opening markets in a phased manner,” said Aijaz Shahdhar, president of the Kashmir Trade Alliance (KTA).
KTA had prepared a comprehensive report on losses suffered by traders last year.
Shahdhar made the comments in response to Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Mohammad Aijaz’s comments that they were examining the demands of traders and would take a decision on reopening businesses after consultation with the stakeholders.
The DC Srinagar’s comments came a day after the submitting of a memorandum by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCC&I) calling for steps to mitigate the adverse impacts of the prolonged pandemic and the continuous lockdown.
Besides urging the government to extend relief measures and compensation to the affected sectors of the society, the KCC&I memorandum had suggested to ‘unlock markets in a phased manner from June 1’.
The chamber had assured the authorities that COVID-19 appropriate behavior would be followed by the stakeholders.
Small-time shopkeepers are the worst affected and are also demanding relaxation.
“Only the government employees do not get hit by the lockdown. Those working in the private sector are already losing jobs or undergoing pay cuts. Now, during the present lockdown, the government allowed only groceries to remain open in the morning hours. We have been shut for a month now and other shopkeepers too should be allowed to reopen in a phased manner,” said Abdul Rauf, general secretary of the Traders Federation Magarmal Crossing (TFMC).
“Small-time shopkeepers like us are the worst affected. Even if the packages are announced, the relief is paltry and benefits rarely trickle down to the real sufferers. We should at least be allowed to open on rotation,” he added.
Even as the Corona Curfew had already been extended till May 31, the DC Srinagar maintained there would be no relaxation as of now. However, he said a decision on giving relaxation will be taken by the State Executive Committee (SEC).
“As of now, there is no space for any relaxation….we are examining the (KCC&I) memorandum and the SEC will take a call after consultation with stakeholders after examining the ground situation,” said the DC Srinagar.