SRINAGAR: The devastating September 2014 flood submerged many buildings in the Valley, including Kashmir Haat, the government’s central handicrafts market building.
Four years have now passed, but the government has failed to renovate the building, leaving vendors in jeopardy as the building walls and the roof are gradually becoming weak.
According to traders in the market, the building was never renovated after the flood, despite their having approached the officials concerned several times.
“We went many times to the director of Handcrafts department as this building is under it, but nothing has been done. They don’t pay any heed to this issue,” said Abdul Majeed, a shopkeeper at the market
He added that the building had now become a place for public urination and immoral activities.
The shopkeepers said that the government had built the market for safeguarding the handicrafts sector but it is now neglecting it. “The buildings are now in a shambles owing to the lack of proper renovation, which has put the shopkeepers on the verge of extinction,” they said.
Another of the market’s shopkeepers, Showkat Ali, said, “Our shops are not safe here now as the back side of the building was badly damaged during the floods. We are afraid to store any stock there as anyone can easily break the walls and enter our shops from the damaged side.”
The government has shifted 47 shops to other places, but this has not been enough. “Nearly 47 shops were shifted to other places from where the Chief Engineer’s office also functions. Some time before, they again said the authorities want to shift five more shops as they need some development. We suggested that they relocate our shops in the front part of the building, which has been in a shambles for the last many years. But still they don’t pay any heed, they are just passing the buck,” Zahoor Ahmad, another shopkeeper
“The handicrafts business is already on the verge of extinction. The government is showing a lazy attitude toward saving this art of Kashmir, on the one hand, and on the other side, these kinds of issues create another problem,” he further said.
Handicraft department PRO Riyaz Ahamd Kawoosa told Kashmir Reader that work was not taken up for the restoration of these shops after the JK Economic and Reconstruction Agency, which is building a flyover nearby, said that the land under these shops would be used for road-widening.