Srinagar, Apr 18: Ahead of Eid, city centre areas are facing slump in business due to ongoing Smart City project works hampering smooth vehicular movement.
Traders in Srinagar’s commercial hub Lal-Chowk said that their business has faced a major blow due to dug up roads and footpaths. The shoppers are now switching to other markets in Downtown and Uptown as the city center Lal Chowk has been crippled by the ongoing works.
Many traders said that the footfall in Lal Chowk has drastically fallen, and this has been one of the worst seasons.
While talking to Greater Kashmir, Chairman Joint Traders Association (JTA) Farhan Kitab said that this Eid, they have not restocked due to the business slump. He said that the ongoing Smart City project has led to dusty roads, traffic diversion, and the whole Lal-Chowk is filled with construction materials and machinery.
“Our winter season has already gone very bad with the majority of the stock unsold, and now we owe money to banks and vendors. We could have managed if the development works had affected 20-30 percent of the business. Unfortunately, it has affected 90 percent of the business, and there is negligible footfall of customers in the city centre that used to be filled with shoppers ahead of Eid,” Kitab said.
He said that they are hoping for some handholding from the government so that they can come out of this phase.
“This can come in the form of reductions of bills and extended time to pay various payments so that we can also have a breather,” he added.
The shoppers said that the stretch from Polo View to Ghanta Ghar is in a mess, and they avoid visiting the place.
“There is no way one can shop from Lal Chowk amid the mess created due to Smart City projects. There is no place to park or commute properly, and that is why I myself avoided visiting the place ahead of Eid. I used to buy most of my Eid goods like clothing and Bakery from Lalchowk, but now I will visit the Downtown market or the local markets of our area,” said Muneer Ahmad, a local from Hazratbal.
The Traders around Hazratbal and the downtown markets of Srinagar are hoping that the Eid rush will pick up. They said that the rush of customers is already picking up as Eid is just over a week ahead.
“The customers have already started arriving in the market. This week will be mostly about shopping for clothes and other items, and the last few days are usually for bakery and other food items. The markets downtown are usually busy during the festive season, but this year the Lalchowk is under construction, and we hope for more footfall of customers,” said Adil Ahmad, a trader in the Nowhatta area of Downtown Srinagar.