Industry suffers Rs 75 crore due to floods
Srinagar, Dec 1: Kashmir’s willow cricket bats have lost date with biggest cricketing extravaganza-World Cup- due to floods that hit the summer capital of the state early September as numerous plies of willow clefts were either washed away or destroyed by ravaging waters of Jhelum.
Cricket bats manufactured from Kashmir willow cleft are known throughout the world for their quality and this time as the World cup is scheduled to be held in early 2015, hordes of bat manufacturing and trading companies had made orders for procurement of raw material or finished products (bats) from Kashmir.
However, the floods in Kashmir spoiled all the prior planning, now instead of making merry out of sales, the Kashmir bat manufacturers are in distress.
As per preliminary assessments of bat manufacturers they have pegged the losses incurred by them at Rs 75 crore.
“We were bracing ourselves to meet the unprecedented demand of bats as World cup was to be held in Australia and various bat trading units across the country had booked orders for cricket bats,” said President Cricket Bat Manufacturers Association, Nazir Ahmad.
He said: “Bijebehara sport complex and its adjoining areas were willow clefts are carved into cricketing bats remained inundated for several days. In sport complex water level had reached upto 13 feet which damaged all the raw material.”
“Even the Srinagar- Jammu Highway was under deluge which resulted in washing away off willow clefts usually piled up to dry them were taken away by gushing water, in some places where the stock remained intact, the water caused enormous damage to clefts which made them useless,” Ahmad adds.
Willow suppliers in Kashmir are still assessing the damage, but some estimated the loss of wood. According to them the damage to the trees could result in a shortfall of millions of cricket bats in coming years.
"Australia is very big buyer from India, England is also, South Africa and all the cricket playing countries are importing bats from here which are mostly manufactured from willow cleft exported from Kashmir," said Mushtaq Ahmad, bat manufacturer.
He said that losses suffered by them would be recurring for sometime as some cut wood was damaged also existing willow trees may also be unusable after being submerged in water for days.
The top-of-the-line bats are made using high-quality willow imported from England, but the majority are made using Kashmiri willow which is significantly cheaper.
“Kashmiri bats are mostly used by players in club cricket as they are cheaper than European bats and thus affordable for upcoming players,” Ahmad said.
The willow trees grow best around the Jhelum River but production hubs like Pulwama, Bijbehara, Baramulla, Sangam, Charsu. More than 80 percent of bat-makers in Jalandhar and Meerut depend on J&K for raw material.