Srinagar: Hundreds of rag- pickers from India airlifted during the devastative September floods have returned to the Valley and are enjoying ‘brisk business season’ as most Kashmiri flood affected people are trying to get rid of contaminated things.
Many Indian rag pickers can be seen making rounds around the devastated houses and buildings in Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh, Wazir Bagh, Gogji Bagh and other parts of the civil lines. Driving handcarts, these rag pickers, mostly from Bihar are enjoying brisk business by purchasing household goods, mostly steel made, at throw away prices. The natural calamity, has also led to a stiff competition between the local and Indian rag pickers.
“Around 100 rag pickers of my village and the neighbourhood have returned to Valley since the waterlogged areas were cleared. Almost all of them operate in Jawahar Nagar locality. The house owners give us everything affected by the floods. That includes steel utensils, plastic cans, and other household items. We are having a brisk business,” Mohammad Samiullah, who returned last week from his hometown Bihar, told Kashmir Reader Sunday.
Samiullah was among thousands of Indian rag pickers/labourers, who took a free flight from the Srinagar International Airport to escape the flood fury.
He said that the families affected by the floods were ‘generously’ offering household goods at cheaper rates leading to a stiff competition between the local and the Indian rag pickers.
“Every day, around 300 Kashmiri rag pickers with load carriers and hand driven carts come here to purchase the goods. Despite it, we are able to earn around Rs 500 to 1000 daily, depending on the condition of the goods,” he said.
Joginder Singh, another resident of Bihar has also returned to Valley after paying a short visit to his family. He said that he resumed business after the situation turned normal in this capital city.
“We are purchasing goods in huge quantity but the rates are not so good. The scrap dealers have slashed the rates. Even then, we earn better than before,” he said, adding, “Every day, new faces are surfacing in Jawahar Nagar. We will carry on our business here before moving to other areas,”
Rehmatullah, another rag picker from Bihar said that the floods have caused huge devastation forcing the Kashmiri families to dispose off all the affected goods without much bargaining.
“The locals just want to get rid off the affected household goods. We purchase whatever the house owners want to sell. Once dried, the goods might fetch good prices,” he said.
“We have been coming to Kashmir for 14 years now. We have only a month left to reap maximum benefits. As winters will start, we’ll move home. We’ll return in March next year,” he added.
Mohammad Ashraf, a local resident said that the families are reluctant to keep the flood affected goods in their homes due to health concern. However, the people from the lower strata of the society, he said, have no option but to wash the goods and reuse it.
“Most of the families in Jawahar Nagar are well off. They don’t want to keep this dirty baggage in their houses and compromise with the hygienic conditions. To remain on a safer side, they just get rid off the affected stuff,” Ashraf added.