Weekend Lockdown and Economic Losses in Kashmir

Ground Report | Srinagar: Economic Losses in Kashmir; With a surge in Covid-19 cases, authorities decided to impose weekend lockdown in Kashmir. From 2 PM on Friday until 6 a.m. on Monday, the government has announced a complete 64 hours lockdown on all the non-essential movements in Jammu and Kashmir. Since the beginning of the third wave in the union territory, the authorities opted for a lockdown to keep the situation under check.

According to specialists, cases in Jammu and Kashmir have already peaked, and infections in the UT may begin to decline after some time. For the past two days, the number of patients who have recovered has outnumbered those who have tested positive.

Despite the fact that it was done for the safety of people, it has resulted in a variety of economic losses in numerous sectors. The lockdown has thrown the already falling economy of Kashmir into disarray. All the businesses in Kashmir have come to a halt as all the establishments have to adhere to the rules of lockdown.

Many people are of the belief that traders are suffering from mental anguish as most of the transactions are usually done over the weekends. There is a decrease in the number of funds issued by the government, resulting in a decrease in the amount of money available. Recently Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries appealed to the higher authorities to pay unpaid payments to business people and entrepreneurs that have been pending for more than four years and reconsider the recent decision to impose weekend lockdowns.

Weekend lockdown: who gets affected the most?

Kashmir has been under continuous lockdowns for almost three years now. Non-purchasing has been directly proportionate to the loss of business, with an estimated loss of 5000 crores between August 5 and March 2020.

With agriculture as the main source of economy, Kashmir has over the years witnessed a strong downfall in its revenue. Be it the 2019 clampdown, or the 2020 covid lockdown the economy here has been affected drastically. Agricultural activities come to a halt in the lockdowns, as it becomes impossible to carry on with the import of the material required and export the products from here.

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The second major source of income here comes from the tourism sector. The economy of Jammu and Kashmir is heavily reliant on tourism, which has equally been affected by the lockdowns. Most of the tourism activities are carried out on weekends. The lockdown this weekend has halted the influx of tourists into the valley. As a result, many involved in the tourism business have suffered greatly.

The transport sector which also contributes to the economy of Kashmir is also getting affected. As the lockdown restricts the movement of people, this restriction has caused economic losses to the people associated with the transport sector.

Economic Losses in Kashmir

The lesser production of goods in industries is forcing the owners to cut down the number of their employees which also leads to the problem of unemployment. Shopkeepers and small store owners are facing economic problems because of the lockdown as well as they have to shut down their shops at 2 p.m. on Fridays and open it back after 64 hours on Monday morning, breaking the continuity of their businesses. Shopkeepers and other business facilities have suffered a significant loss, as fewer individuals are now able to shop and buy products.

Kashmir already has a weak private sector, but whatever exists here is also being affected. The small private employees are not being able to earn due to these weekend lockdowns.  Their sales and work are getting affected.

The weekly flea market in Srinagar’s core, known as the ‘Sunday Market,’ not only caters to buyers from all walks of life but also provides a source of income for vendors located in Munshi Bagh’s Lal Chowk is getting affected as well. Many vendors and shopkeepers who are to sell their goods over the weekend have not been able to do that for two consecutive weeks now because of the weekend lockdown. The vendors are highly dependent on the income they generate there and the restrictions have left them in spills.

However, the most affected section is that of daily wagers and street vendors. These people live hand to mouth. Their livelihood is directly dependent on their daily earnings which is getting affected by the weekend lockdown. The street vendors mostly those who sell perishable items like vegetables, fruits etc., cannot sell their items on weekends now due to the lockdown. They are economically the weakest section of the society here and the lockdown has left them helpless as well.

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Mental health of people

Some locals told Groundreport.in that, “Weekends mean a major earning for local markets here so why to impress upon them this unintelligent measure at this crucial stage ?”

The economic losses also cause economic disparities, which indirectly affects the mental health of people, adding to the already prevalent unemployment here. This step has caused disastrous economic losses among the local businesses. “The virus is going to stay with us for some more time as we all are aware and it seems pointless to shut the businesses when pandemic has entered its third year,” said a local from Srinagar.

It is pertinent to mention here that though, for good, the lockdown has had a significant impact on business sectors and market operations, with daily wagers and marginalised groups of society suffering the most. A visibly irked local summed up it all in just one statement, “ We cannot afford these losses anymore now. We have learnt to live with the virus from the past two years, this weekend lockdown sounds like a joke to us and an atrocious policy for the poor here.”  It is high time to look at how much of an economic impact the two-year curfew has had on Kashmir, and how the weekend lockdown is adding to the misery.

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