Indefinite lockdown infringement on rights of traders: KCC&I

Lockdown restrictions in Pulwama
Lockdown restrictions in Pulwama (Photo Credit: Reshi Irshad)

SRINAGAR — Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCC&I) on Thursday termed the indefinite lockdown of business establishments in Kashmir especially Srinagar as a serious infringement on the rights of the business community to earn a livelihood.

“Despite full cooperation extended by the general public and the business community, the administration appeared to be running around in circles since the previous five months and seem oblivious to the fact that the business community of Kashmir is presently in the 13th month of a disruption which has wiped out enterprises and devastated the economy,” a spokesperson of the KCC&I said in a statement issued here.

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He said despite total cases numbering 5.35 lacs with a daily average of 1,700 cases since previous two months, Mumbai has now entered its Unlock 3.0 phase. “A population of more than two crores living in an area of 603 sq km as compared to Srinagar’s population of around 17 lakhs in an area of 294 sq km. A six times higher population density of 33,168 persons per sq km as compared to 5,782 persons per sq km in Srinagar. On 3rd of August, 2020, the BMC has allowed all shops – essential and non-essential – to open all day except in containment zones,” he said.

KCC&I further stated that only theatres, food courts, in-house dining in restaurants, bars and gaming zones, street vendors and hawkers, continue to be prohibited.

“There are currently around 700 containment zones in Mumbai but unlike in Srinagar, they mostly consist of individual buildings and chawls/slums. Here, the administration cannot be bothered to stop tweeting and identify individual houses. They simply barbwire-off entire neighbourhoods, if not the entire districts. Saves a lot of hard work. With six times the population density, gradual opening of business establishments and the population being allowed much more movement, the infection rate of around 2.65 percent not been seen as a very successful operation but speaks volumes about the intent of the Maharashtra Government to provide avenues of livelihood and it’s concern for the welfare of the public,” he said.

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KCC&I added there has been grievous dereliction in proper utilization of the earlier stages of lockdowns to strategize and prepare for the unlocking phase.

“DDMA funds have been spent on purchase of barriers despite Kashmir having the highest inventory of barriers including Barbed Wires available. The prices of critical medical equipment including Oxygen Concentrators has skyrocketed without any system of checks and balances in place. Butchers are hauled in for selling meat at meagerly higher prices but no attention is being paid to regulate the prices of these essential and critical medical equipment. Shopkeepers, pushed against the wall by the financial stress and in pursuit of bringing food to the family are being forced to operate like smugglers and reports of excessive harassment by various enforcement agencies are pouring in,” he said.

The spokesperson further said that at the district levels, confusing amendments have been made to the comprehensive guidelines issued by the worthy Chairman of the State Disaster Management Authority.

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“A majority of the public has no idea of what the guidelines are. Banks were open throughout but no care was taken to monitor their functioning, resulting in reports of largest COVID clusters emerging from Banks. The royals have been enjoying their golf rounds without any break whereas the shopkeepers are put behind bars for seeking to feed their families out of frustration,” he said.

“Handpicked star restaurants frequented by the high and mighty have been allowed to operate without any interruption whereas the lesser mortals are not allowed activities. Similarly, Government offices are functioning at full strength despite daily movement of employees posing a risk whereas schools are not being allowed to operate on minimal rotational routine suggested by their respective associations.”

“Our students stand deprived of quality education due to the unavailability of required Internet speed, popularly referred to as 4G, providing which the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has been opposing tooth and nail in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. What prevented the Government from providing broadband connections to the students or parents so that our children could also participate in the new normal is beyond comprehension,” KCC&I said.

“As we begin to introspect what we got in past 70 years, it would be only fair to start with the current year and we feel that the example of Government’s Golf Policy would suffice to illustrate the Government’s benevolence on ground,” he said.

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