The COVID19 scare and ensuing liquidity crunch have directly impacted the sacrificial animal market here ahead of Eid.
Kashmir has an estimated Rs 500 crore market for sacrificial animals. The market this year, according to the mutton dealers, may shrink by 50 percent owing to the pandemic and the ensuing general trade depression.
Eidgah ground in the downtown here is the main market for sacrificial animals where vendors from various parts of Jammu and Kashmir throng with their flock.
However, the spot on Friday wore a desert look where just a miniscule of mutton dealers and customers were seen.
“Situation this year is totally different; there is no hustle. In last three days, I have sold only two sacrificial animals,” said Muhammad Irshad Kasana.
He said there was fear among people due to pandemic. “Besides, lockdown since August last year has directly hit the spending power of people,” he said.
General Secretary, Kashmir Mutton Dealers Association, Mehraj-ud-Din Ganie said: “We fear the sales this year will reduce by over 50 percent as the pandemic has broken the back of the economy and at the same time it has created a fear.”
“People are afraid to distribute meat; Families that would sacrifice two or three animals may come down to one animal at the most,” he said.
Usually, he said, Kashmir mutton dealers would record sale of sacrificial animals to the tune of Rs 500 crore. But this time the sales would not touch even Rs 300 crore, he said.
Meanwhile, people complained that mutton dealers were flouting the government approved rate of Rs 220 to 230 a kilogram for sacrificial animals.
“Despite less demand, mutton dealers are selling animals at Rs 300 per kg,” said Ajaz Ahmad, a Srinagar resident.