For the second consecutive year, the deadly pandemic—Covid-19 that was first found in China’s Wuhan which stepped into J&K in March 2021, changed lives of people in Jammu and Kashmir while lockdown enforced by the government hit every sector very badly.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the first case was reported positive on 9 March 2020 forcing the government to announce lockdown, closure of schools, hotels, restaurant, gym centres and other crowded places. However, the situation eased to great extent in winters and till March 2021 cases and deaths were under control.
However, with the emergence of new variants which were more dangerous than the parent virus, J&K which was witnessing cases below hundred per day, started to witness cases in thousands.
There was hue and cry for oxygen supported beds everywhere as cases were more severe and deaths also increased as compared to first wave forcing administration to announce lock down again.
The tourism sector and horticulture sector known as the backbone of Kashmir economy again suffered losses in crores . Businessmen, hoteliers, houseboat owners, transporters and labourers were the worst hit.
J&K witnessed below 2,000 cases and 21 deaths in February 2021 while around 5000 cases and 37 deaths were reported in the month of March. 45,123 cases and 289 deaths were reported in the month of April and 114,382 cases and 1,624 deaths were reported in the month of May.
As cases increased authorities closed OPDs at various hospitals and all major hospitals were specially kept for Covid patients, causing a lot of inconvenience to the non-Covid patients.
Due to Covid-19 lockdown, students were forced again to take online classes and students having no android phones and living in non-network zones suffered a lot. Besides, thousands of people lost their jobs, however unlike last year, labourers were allowed to continue their work.
This year in January, government started vaccination drive and so far around 55 percent population has been covered but with the threat of new variant Omicron looming large which is said to be more transmissible than earlier variant, people especially children an unvaccinated fraction of population is said to be more susceptible and if the vaccine administered won’t be effective for new variant, then whole population can get affected.
President of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) Sheikh Ashiq said that from August last year Kashmir’s economy has suffered a whopping of over Rs 40,000 crores besides one lakh youth lost their jobs.
He said that this year there was a loss of around 10,000 crore due to the lockdown and business in J&K is going on very thin line.
Ashiq said that every segment of the economy suffered huge losses and it will take years to revive business due to the losses suffered due to Covid lockdown and without government support it isn’t possible
He said that LG Manoj Sinha announced an economic package for reviving the ailing business sector, which gave a bit of relief, however, many things which were mentioned in the package haven’t been implemented yet on ground.
“Unemployment rate is increasing which indicates there is less work in the market. It will take time to take business to the normal stage as it was before August 05. However, KCCI is making every effort to promote young and educated entrepreneurs of J&K and create more and more employment opportunities for the youth of J&K.
Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) President Muhammad Yaseen Khan told KNO that business this year is down than last year because of inflation.
He said that there was a good tourist season this year and that the horticulture sector has also fetched a good amount but due to very heavy losses in the last two years, no positive effects of such things were seen on ground.
He said that though unemployment rate is increasing in J&K but among 1 lakh people who had lost their jobs last year due to lockdown around 20 to 30 thousand people have been re-engaged.(KNO)