COVID-19: Labour migration shoots up brick prices in Valley

Labourers in a brick kiln
Representational Image

SRINAGAR — Prices of bricks have shot up by about Rs 12,000 following the migration of non-local labourers in wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

While there is no new production, kiln owners are cashing in by selling their old stock at higher rates. “Some brick kiln owners have huge stock lying with them, but are creating an artificial scarcity to make money,” sources said.

However, brick kiln owners accuse Government of over pricing. They said Divisional Commissioner Kashmir is not ready to allow non-local labourers associated with brick kilns to arrive in Kashmir.

Brick Kiln Association for south Kashmir said that prices have gone up for bricks due to labour shortage. “Prices may go up further if same situation prevails and brick kiln labourers won’t turn up. We have already paid these labourers in advance and now are waiting for government nod,” Farooq Ahmed, associated with Brick Kiln Association said.

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He said that representatives from Brick Kilns met Divisional Commissioner Kashmir as well and requested them to allow non-local labourers to work in kilns. “Government is not ready to allow these labourers visit Kashmir in times of pandemic and this is the reason prices have shot up,” he added.

“We were paying Rs 20,000 for bricks but now they are demanding Rs 32,000. In near future, rates will go high up to Rs 50,000,” said a local.

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Already hit by paucity of sand and gravel, people are now finding it even more difficult to take up construction activities.

Same situation prevails all across Kashmir. Brick kiln owners, on their part, are also worried. “We are facing a big financial crisis. We cannot resume work until we get material and labourers,” they said.

“If an operator has sufficient old stock to run the kiln, we cannot stop him,” an official said, adding, “We have to only ensure that social distancing norms are observed.”

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