COVID: Closure of weekly flea market results in Rs 5 Crore losses, vendors in distress

Urge Govt to come up with alternate solution, say families on verge of starvation

Srinagar: The frequent closure of weekly flea market since past over six months as resulted in the huge losses of worth Rs 4.80 Crore to the vendors leaving their families on the verge of starvation.

The three-km-long market from Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) to Hari Singh High Street (HSHS), including Lal Chowk has been closed since February this year after the outbreak of COVID-19 in Jammu and Kashmir.

The street vendors who were erecting their stalls on the busiest market on every Sunday told the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that they have suffered a loss of Rs 4.80 Crores approximately in last four months, adding that each vendor has suffered a loss of Rs 20,000 per month.

“I was earning Rs 5,000 on every Sunday and now it has been over four six months almost when I have not earned a single penny and I don’t even have the other source of income as well,” Showkat Ahmed, a vendor said. “It’s not only me who is facing such a situation, but my family and the people who were directly or indirectly earning their bread and butter from Sunday market have been facing similar situations since the closure of the busiest market.”

He said that there are almost 600 to 700 vendors with almost 1200 ‘beds’, who were earning from Sunday market and have no source left now for earning livelihood,” he said.

It’s not only from the last four months only, but the busiest market is closed for a long time. The market is shut since the abrogation of Article 370 on Aug 5 last.

Abdur Rehman, another vendor said that a meager compensation will not help them to survive, but the government needs to come up with alternate solutions to allow the street vendors to erect their stalls. “We should be allowed to resume our activities on Sundays with strict adherence to the SOPs. We will also follow the health guidelines in spirit, but the government should consider allowing us to resume our activities,” he said adding that their families are already on the verge of starvation and if government won’t listen to their grievances, situation may take an ugly turn and their family members would have no option other than to beg—(KNO)