By: Afaq Bhat
Srinagar: As the restrictions have been eased and the COVID-19 cases are on decline in Kashmir, businessmen are hoping that lockdown doesn’t return.
A businessman while talking to Precious Kashmir said, “We have suffered immense losses during the past two years. We are hoping that lockdown doesn’t return. If the situation improves we might be able to put the pieces together again.”
He said that during the lockdown period many big brands winded up their showrooms in the Valley and they may come back if the COVID-19 relents. “We are caught in a Catch-22 situation as we cannot blame anyone for our miseries as the pandemic has turned the entire system upside down. Besides big brands, many small time businessmen have closed down their units and have called it quits,” he added.
General Secretary Transport Kashmir, Mohammad Yusuf told a Srinagar based news agency that the transporters have been the worst hit. He claimed that their industry has suffered a loss of over Rs 700 crore from August 2019, which includes fresh loss of Rs 200 crore loss in April-May this year.
Yusuf acknowledged that the government has increased the fares by 30% but stated that public transport can carry only 50% passengers.
During the past two years prices of petrol and diesel too have witnessed a steep hike which have put extra burden on the transporters. “Our vehicles are hypothecated with the banks and other financial institutions. We have to pay installments every month but during the past 2-years most of us have turned defaulters as we have been unable to pay our EMIs regularly,” said another transporter.
It’s not the transporters only who are suffering, businessmen who have taken loans for stocks and establishing hotels and restaurants too are sailing in the same boat. “The government needs to come for our rescue. We need a special financial package. Economy is in doldrums. Thousands of people who were associated with various trades and jobs have been rendered jobless,” said a trader.
It’s in place to mention here that representatives of the business community have been meeting the officials and have also approached New Delhi to seek assistance. “We have been assured that some kind of succor will be provided to us. We hope that something happens as COVID-19 has broken our back. Most of the businessmen have to start from scratch and they need help,” said Farooq Ahmed, a unit holder.