Srinagar, Jan 21: With electricity supply erratic this winter, kangri — the traditional earthen firepot woven in wicker — has emerged as an useful means to fight subzero temperatures in Kashmir.
Sales of kangri have almost doubled this winter compared to last year, people associated with this trade claimed and attributed it mainly to the erratic power supply.
The capping of subsidised LPG cylinders per household over the years and soaring prices of wood were listed as other factors that have forced the people to revert to use of kangris to keep themselves warm during winter.
“The sale of kangris was dipping every year over the past decade or so due to introduction of modern gadgets like heaters that used electricity, kerosene or LPG as fuel.
However, as these fuels are not available readily now, people have started buying kangris again,” Ghulam Mohammad, a resident of Charar-e-Sharief who sells kangris for a living, told PTI.
Many areas of Kashmir, including Srinagar, face electricity outages ranging between six and 12 hours every day while only 12 subsidised LPG cylinders are provided to each household every year.
Kerosene, which was widely used to fuel the heaters, has also become a rarity with each household getting only two litres per month at subsidised rates.
Mohammad said this has led to a spur in sales of kangris.
“I used to sell 10 to 15 kangris every day at the start of the winter season, which was definitely not enough to make a proper living. However, the sales this year improved and I sell anywhere between 20 and 25 kangris each day.”
An average kangri costs between Rs 150 and Rs 200 but the price of a good quality firepot ranges from Rs 300 to Rs 500.
The 65-year-old artisan spends summer buying the raw material for kangris and makes them during autumn months so that his merchandise is ready for sale at the onset of winter.
The increase in sale has rekindled his hope that the art of making kangri, unique to Kashmir, can be preserved and passed to the next generation.
“The low returns earlier were major deterrent for the younger generation to even consider entering this trade but there is hope now. A good craftsman can make more money than an entry level government employee does under the new job policy of the state government,” Mohammad Abid, 30-year-old son of Ghulam Mohammad, said.
The exact size of market for kangri in Kashmir is difficult to gauge but thousands of people get their livelihood from being associated with its trade.
Besides being used to fight winter chill, kangri, an earthen pot woven around with wicker filled with hot embers, is also regarded as a work of art.
Abdul Hamid, a shopkeeper in outskirts of Srinagar dealing only with wicker products including kangri, felt the pot is here to stay.
“With electricity meters being installed everywhere, people from economically weaker sections — may be even middle class — will have to rely on kangris to keep themselves warm,” Hamid said.
He said the Kangri had a special place in the Kashmiri culture which extends beyond the valley now.
“We also have decorative kangris which cost upwards of Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000. These are normally given as gifts and adorn many a drawing room in Kashmir and outside the valley. Brides would be gifted at least one such kangri by her parents at the time of marriage… such was the importance of kangri in Kashmiri culture,” he added.
Entrepreneur duo comes up with ‘Fast Beetle’, valley’s ‘first’ logistics company
Srinagar, Jan 22: In the fast paced world, convenience and ease of access is a mantra that no business can afford to ignore.
In Kashmir too, the customer demands his pound of flesh and businesses have begun to cater to this aspect.
Enter ‘Fast Beetle’, a specialised delivery service that began operations last year and claims to be the first logistics company in the entire valley that provides end-to-end service to the entrepreneurs, specifically women.
Owned by two young entrepreneurs, Sami Ullah and Abid Rashid, the logistics company promises to take on the challenge of fulfilling the promise of timely delivery. They ensure that orders received from many valley based e-commerce websites reach the customer within a day.
After completing his MBA, Sami Ullah, 27, started working with a company called ‘Kashmir Box’. He came across many e-commerce website owners who were facing problems in the delivery of their products. This triggered the idea behind his startup.“What I observed was that the issue was mostly faced by female entrepreneurs. They find difficult to move out from their home every day. So I decided why not set up a delivery service,” recalls Sami Ullah.
Last year in September, Sami Ullah started working on the idea along with his friend Abid, who too has an MBA.
After two months of research, the duo gradually built their network with the local e-commerce websites, soon interacting with over 50 entrepreneurs, mostly women.
“In the first stage, we did the mapping of Instagram pages and accordingly approached them,” recounts Sami Ullah.
The founders started the company with a moderate capital saved from their previous jobs and they worked on a minimum-profit basis.
However, their start-up didn’t progress the way they had planned. The challenges came as the business started to evolve.“As the customers multiplied, the phone calls about the delivery details increased too.
The clients would call us repeatedly to ensure if their product was delivered. The whole process became tedious,” says Sami Ullah.
The duo then developed a software that streamlined the order details including the delivery status.“When the entrepreneurs create an order, the company receives an e-mail automatically through the system. Our admin assigns the delivery boys and then forwards the details of the order. It provides an end to end protection to our clients,” explains Sami Ullah.
At present, the duo functions from a warehouse in Zaldagar area of old-city.
They have five people working for them.
The company receives over 50-60 orders on an average every day and has, so far, delivered over 4,000 orders.
They now earn double than what their jobs offered and are proud owners of five motorcycles used for the delivery purposes.“Most deliveries that we do are for cosmetics, medicines, clothes, shoes and other grocery items,” says Sami Ullah.
The company charges the client a commission on the total value of the order.
The company has extended its cash on delivery services in Anantnag, Sopore and Baramulla and plans to start a franchise model in every district in the future.
No public transport in late hours; authorities say electric buses in offing
Srinagar, Jan 22: Authorities have failed to provide inter and intra-district public transport service for the people of Kashmir, especially during the late afternoon and evening hours.
Each working day, commuters can be seen jostling for seats in private cabs here, a limited number of which ply to and fro the districts of Kashmir.
At Jehangir Chowk in Srinagar, people are seen anxiously waiting for a cab in late hours, knowing if they miss one, they may have to wait for hours for another.
A similar situation is also faced by the commuters on various city routes, who complain about the absence of passenger buses and cabs.
In addition to the hassle, the passengers pay a much higher fare than they would have had there been any government transport service available.
“After 5 pm, cabs running from Lal Chowk to Nishat are difficult to find and even after waiting for hours at Jehangir Chowk, we hardly find any transport in the evening,” said a resident of Nishat, who travels to the city-centre each day.
The problem, commuters say, aggravates in winters because of lesser daylight.“There is hardly any direct cab service between Lal Chowk and Soura. I travel by bus which moves very slowly, wasting a good hour and a half for the journey that can be completed within 30 minutes,” a resident from Soura said.
Principal Secretary Transport Department, Asgar Hassan Samoon said the government’s plan to run eco-friendly, battery-powered buses will be rolled out in Jammu and Kashmir soon.“It will take some time because we need to set up electric charge-stations. Till then, by the month of March, 50 to 70 city buses should be started (sic),” he said.
Asked about inter-district transport, Samoon said: “We will try to start night services and transport services for long routes as well.”
JK fully prepared for census of water bodies: Revenue Deptt
Jammu, Jan 22: Department of Revenue today said that Financial Commissioner (Revenue), who is also Census Commissioner, has initiated all the requisite measures for smooth conduct of 6th Minor Irrigation Census and first census of Water Bodies with the reference year 2017-18.
The census is being conducted in Jammu and Kashmir along with other States by the Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
For conducting the census efficiently, field functionaries of Revenue Department viz Tehsildars/ Naib-Tehsildars/ Girdawars/Patwaries/OQs have been imparted training at their respective District Headquarters in all Districts except Leh and Kargil by the Planning Cell in the Office of Financial Commissioner, Revenue.
The schedules along with Guidelines and Instruction Manual have been distributed among the Tehsils. Village directory required by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India has been prepared and sent to the concerned.
“Deputy Commissioners have been authorized as per plan of activities approved by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation to procure Mobile Devices for each Tehsil as required for capturing photographs of water bodies, a statement of the Department said.
“A mobile-friendly app/software would be made available by the concerned Ministry.”
All enumerators have been kept in the state of readiness for field operation which shall commence as per the time schedule to be circulated by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India, the statement added.