Srinagar: The Sunday ban on civilian traffic on the highway has started to take its toll on livelihood of vendors who operate at the weekly Sunday market at Lal Chowk, besides also hitting trade of vendors at Makka Market, Goni Khan market, and Hari Singh High Street. Vendors say that customer footfall has dwindled since the highway ban began.
“As the government has locked down the highway, people living in areas other than Srinagar city are not able to reach the Sunday market and different adjoining markets. It has caused a sharp decline in sales,” said a vendor.
Nearly 2,000 families are dependent on the Sunday market in Srinagar. Some vendors said they operate only once a week and all their business is centred on the Sunday market. They said the ban on civilian traffic on Sunday has stopped a significant customer flow that came from areas of south and north Kashmir.
A vendor at Makka market, which adjoins Lal Chowk, said that customers are finding it difficult to reach and his sales were “almost zero” today.
“Prior to the highway ban, every Sunday our sales would touch Rs 80,000. But during the last two Sundays I have not managed sales of Rs 30,000,” said Furkaan Ahmad, a vendor at the Sunday market in Lal Chowk.
Another vendor, Javeed Ahmad, said that the government should immediately roll back this decision as the livelihood of many people is at stake.
“It is a direct attack on the livelihood of people of Kashmir. We are poor people and have no other source of income,” he said.
Bashir Ahmad, a vendor who sells flower saplings and other ornamental plants at Lal Chowk, said that the season of his business was limited to spring. “Sundays brought significant customers to us but since the last Sunday, customers are drying up from the market. Our sales have greatly declined,” he said.
The J&K government has banned civilian traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu highway every Sunday and Wednesday from 4am to 5pm to allow safe movement of government forces’ convoys.