After 3 years of shifting general bus stand Batamaloo to Parimpora city outskirts, administration has failed to rehabilitate the shopkeepers at Batamaloo, leaving them in distress.
A group of shopkeepers at Batamaloo told Rising Kashmir that administration’s promise in 2017 of rehabilitating them has not been met till yet.
Twenty seven year old Irshad Ahmad Lone, a master’s degree hold, had joined his father’s business at the old Iqbal Market recently but he feels the shifting of the bus stand came as a blow to their business.
“The decision to shift the bus stand was injustice with the shopkeepers. Even though more than three years have passed, government seems in no hurry to rehabilitate the shopkeepers and traders," he said.
Another local shopkeeper, Mohammad Younis said the shifting of the bus stand to city outskirts significantly reduced their business. “Earlier more than one lakh people would visit the market but after the governments’ decision to shift the bus stand, 90% of our sales have gone down,” he said.
“Shopkeepers are facing various problems due to shifting of bus stand. They are compelled to sell things on footpath, Younis said, adding, that “some shopkeepers had to discontinue their children’s school at private schools.”
Younis said that the decline in business due to shifting of the bus stand has left some shopkeepers depressed.
Younis said that since the government took this harsh step, our business is running on loss. "We are not even able to pay our balanced amount to the whole sellers and distributers due to low sales as less number of customers visit this market" he said.
A shoe seller Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh at Batamaloo the decision of the government to shift the bus stand and subsequent reduction in income forced his children to discontinue their studies. “In Iqbal market alone, more than 400 shopkeepers have been affected by this decision – economically as well as psychologically,” he said.
Similarly, other shopkeepers at the formerly erstwhile Bus stand complained that their children were compelled by dire economic situation either to leave education or shift to government schools from private schools.
Earlier, in 2017 the government of Jammu and Kashmir shifted the General Bus stand Batamaloo to Parimpora. As per these aggrieved shopkeepers, promise were made to them that they will be rehabilitated in Parimpora and a shopping complex will be constructed for them.
General Secratery Trader’s Union Iqbal Market Batmaloo Mohammad Yaseen Guru said the impact of the decision and reduction of income forced them to fire nearly 800 salesmen. “What is tragic is that most of these salesmen are educated youth who are now selling goods on the streets,” he said.
Pertinently, under the directions of the Jammu Kashmir High Court – the draft for the new comprehensive rehabilitation plan for affected traders was framed immediately after the affected shopkeepers and transporters registered protest against the government’s move.
Under the rehabilitation plan, 25 kanals of additional land had been acquired by the Government for the construction of new shopping complex at the Parimpora bus terminal where 718 affected traders were supposed to rehabilitate.
However, these measures have not been implemented yet.
President Trader’s Union Iqbal Market Batamaloo Mohammad Ashraf Matu accused the government of deceiving the shopkeepers as “no such shopping complex is made on ground.”
“It is just lip service. Their claim of rehabilitation is complete deception,” he said.
Matu alleged that the shifting of the bus stand to Fruit Mandi Parimpora has incurred loss of nearly Rs. 50 crores to the shopkeepers. “The shopkeepers are forced to sell goods on footpath owing to circumstances creating by shifting of the bus Stand,” he said.
The Batamaloo Traders Union appealed the government to consider their grievances as they are awaiting the promise made by government for construction of the shopping complex at Parimpora. The Union also urged the government for compensation their losses which they incurred since the shift.