Video By: Basharat Amin | Article By: Sajad Rasool
The ongoing lock-down in Kashmir from August 5th, 2019 after the abrogation of Article 370 by the Indian government has hit hard the street vendor and daily wage community. Suhail Ahmad, a 27-year-old man of Shopian also used to sell different commodities on the streets of Shopian town. Sole earner in his family, Suhail supports 5 people at his home and used to earn 1000 rupees on an average day.
I used to earn 500-700 INR a day before 5th August 2019, since then we have been under a lock-down and we did a month of work, now this COVID lock-down has brought us in crisis.
The local authorities have restricted the commercial activities in the town like other parts of Kashmir. There are more than 500 families in Shopian, which are daily wage earners. Interestingly, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on Monday launched a micro-credit scheme for street vendors, which was announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 14 as a part of the economic package for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.
We request the local authorities to let us work so that we earn our livelihood, if not then provide us financial assistance.
When we contacted the deputy commissioner of the Shopian district, he said that the restrictions on small scale businesses will continue unless we contain the spread of the virus. He didn’t comment further as to how govt at the local level is planning to support the street vendors. he Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi Scheme is aimed at benefiting over 50 lakh vendors who had their businesses operational on or before March 24. The scheme is valid till March 2022, the Ministry said in a statement. The vendors will be able to apply for a working capital loan of up to ₹10,000, which is repayable in monthly installments within a year. An official in anonymity told the CC that they have not got any directions from the union govt regarding AtmaNirbhar package.
According to an official report by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), the Kashmir economy lost over Rs 18,000 crore in the 120 days after August 5, 2019. This, added to estimated losses of another Rs 13,200 crore during the 49 days of the COVID-19 lockdown till May 12, brought the cumulative loss to J&K’s economy to a staggering Rs 31,200 crore or around 17% of JK’s GSDP.