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Second wave of COVID19: Kashmir businesses feel the heat




Srinagar, May 27: While the COVID19 pandemic created havoc across the world, affecting the economy and businesses throughout the globe, India – one of the worst-hit countries by the coronavirus – has to face an economic recession after decades as the GDP for 2020-21 is expected to contract by more than 7 percent. However, the businesses in Jammu and Kashmir have to face a double whammy. First, it was the August 5, 2019 clampdown and internet ban, and as people here were struggling to come out of its impact, a countrywide lockdown was announced to curb the deadly virus. This year also as the second wave of COVID19, which proved worse than the first one, hit the country, restrictions were again put in place for the movement of people as well as the opening of markets, educational institutions and public places hitting hard the already beleaguered business. To know the impact of these back to back lockdowns on the Kashmir economy, Business Kashmir spoke to some businessmen and industrialists about their assessment of the situation.

Kaisar Ahmad Khan

Al-Furqaan Enterprises

Trade & Distribution sector

My company is going through a financial crunch. We provide stock to our retailers but most of the payments remain withheld. We have about 10 employees working with us, who are dependent on the firm. We have to pay salaries to our employees as well as rent of godowns, which makes it even more difficult to cope with the loss.

The trade sector is hugely impacted by the COVID19 pandemic and prior lockdowns as well. Due to prolonged lockdowns, consumer buying power has gone down. Even those people who have money are only buying essentials and deferring bigger purchasing decisions as the situation is unpredictable.

The government needs to take some concrete steps to facilitate the business sector. Refinancing of loans and interest subvention is of no help to businesses like ours. The situation is like that we have to start it all from scratch now because Kashmir has witnessed three lockdowns consecutively. Government should come up with a good package that will deal with business as well as present the COVID19 situation simultaneously.

Dawar Mir

MA Mir and Co.

Govt Contractor

COVID19 pandemic has resulted in halting major construction activities. While the construction material prices have shot up by more than 35%. Be it gravel, sand, cement or steel, all items are now costlier as compared to the rates before August 5, 2019. But the government rates are locked until the completion of a project and as the work gets delayed due to lockdowns, it takes away the profitability.

I believe, the industrial sector is witnessing a 90% loss, since the business is not going well we still have to pay the workers which drain the capital. Though during the present phase of lockdown, passes have been allotted to the industry people. But these passes are not many times entertained by the lockdown enforcing people on the ground.

Though the government has a lot of policies on paper regarding industry and business, all they need to do is implement those policies, which is not happening. Development funds are delayed, and payments are pending for the last 3 years. If the government implements the policies there might be some respite from the misery of losses.

Ibrahim Beigh

5G Mobile Services

Cell Phone sale& Service 

COVID19 pandemic has affected the daily work of our firm badly. Mine is a product-based as well as a service-based business. Due to COVID curfew and lockdown, the official store at Khanyar is closed. The business is run through online mode now and delivered to customers through logistics service providers which have impacted the sales as the footfall has reduced to a significant amount in our retail store. The online platforms cannot compensate for that. Economic scenario has deprived to a large extent and spending power of people is very low compared to what it is in normal conditions.

There is no display of mercantile in the retail store, owing to present circumstances, all sales are generated online right now. We are offering free delivery within adjoining areas and paid delivery in farther areas.

The business is witnessing a 50-60% dip in sales on average because of the current lockdown.  The store has 5-6 employees, all working on a commission basis presently, no salary structure is being applied for now.

Kashmir’s economy has been disturbed since 2014 itself, due to natural as well as political conditions, keeping in view all these factors and knowing this is the third consecutive lockdown, the administration should strike a balance between pandemic as well as business and ease restrictions for businesspeople to some extent.

Certain leniency should be provided to businesses, as holistic lockdown will halt the economy completely. The opening of markets should happen in a phased manner under a particular controlled mechanism.  Society has hand-to-mouth segments of people as well who are solely dependent upon the small businesses they own, keeping that in view the stringent standards of lockdown should ease to some extent.  Also, the administration needs to facilitate the smooth movement of delivery persons, as it’s not easy for them to move freely during such stringent lockdown.

Sheikh Samiullah


Logistics & Courier Services

FastBeetle has witnessed good growth during the ongoing lockdown. People want all the essential to get delivered to them at their doorsteps, which boosted the logistics business. This sector of business has seen a significant amount of profit.

The mobile application makes it very easy for people to place an order. The company has employed 35 people till now and is doing very well.

Kashmir has witnessed several lockdowns which have resulted in less economic growth. There are other sectors of business that have got severely affected due to the lockdown. Government officials should come up with some relief packages for business sectors so that the ongoing losses can be compensated.

The movement of delivery persons during the COVID curfew is a matter of concern. Their movement is usually restricted, and they are even beaten most sometimes, but somehow they manage to deliver the orders by following Covid- SOPs.’

Kashmir businesses feel the heat

Daniyal Qureshi

Greenway Enterprise

Packaging Industry

The current lockdown has resulted in a decline in production at our factory.

Initially, the movement was not allowed from home to factories, then the administration ordered movement passes to people in estates but on grounds, the situation was quite opposite. Since the markets were closed, the buyers were not ready to accept the products which affected the product generation. Even though the factory was closed, the payment to labourers and utilities needs to be paid. The production made is zero but banks are continuously charging the interests from the firms.

Since there is no sale, we are not able to generate any money, what will we pay to a bank? Because of this, our EMIs are continuously piling up.

Currently, Greenway Enterprise has seen a 30% dip in production generation. The national lockdown has resulted in an escalation in prices of raw materials as well. Presently, losses are being assessed, and it can be said that the current state of Kashmir’s economy is not viable.

Government should come up with effective policies to compensate for the losses.

With proper implementation of COVID19 SOPs, markets should be at least opened alternatively.

Government should consider a proper plan of 5 years for rehabilitation, revival and restructuring of the business sector. The economy is under crunch and 40% – 50%  capital infusion will not help in reviving the market.

Asif Hussain

Fair Fax Holidays

Tour & Travel

Tourism sector is one of the worst-hit sectors in Kashmir. Except for a brief period of 2-3 months, tourism activities have remained suspended in Kashmir since August 2019.

The employees working with us are very badly impacted. To sustain we provide them with a salary but at the same time, everyone wants to see growth in their job, which unfortunately can’t be achieved in Kashmir.

The tourism sector saw a boom for the winter month for a while, at a winter sports event in Gulmarg and in April, at tulip festival opening. So, keeping that in view many investments were made beforehand but due to the sudden rise in Covid cases and imposing of lockdown, all the investments are in a loss. The graph of tourism has seen improvement only for two times since three consecutive lockdowns it’s in decline mode.

Forget about gaining, even to sustain markets are not open.

Hotels, restaurants are all shut since lockdown and the earning is zero in the tourism sector.

The expectations of the tourism sector now lie with the Amarnath Yatra, which is supposed to get functional in July.

The objectivity is lacking in Kashmir’s trade and commerce sector. The state has no backup plan, even after witnessing many unstable conditions. The government is not taking any solid steps to help the people who went through huge losses.

The administration should frame policies that can be implemented on grounds keeping in view the Covid-19 SOPs.  It seems that we have to live with COVID, for now, so the strategies to sustain the economy should be made very effectively. Government should start home-based projects for youth who are unemployed and can’t find work due to the pandemic.

Firdaus Bhat

Manchester Education Consultancy Services

Service Sector

COVID19 has badly impacted us, as almost every country is dealing with it right now. Travel and movement in many parts of the world are either banned or restricted. Earlier, it would be lockdown in Kashmir and students would like to go outside for the studies but this time situation is the same everywhere. So the kind of service we provide, overseas education, is completely down and my venture is running in losses. I have to pay the salary to my employees regularly.

Not only the educational consultancies but overall the education sector is in losses. But despite that, I’ll argue that lockdown should continue until it is required to rein in this deadly virus. Health should be a priority for everyone.


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Lenskart enters Kashmir market, opens shop at Regal Chowk



Lenskart enters Kashmir market

Srinagar: Lenskart, India’s leading eyewear brand, has forayed into the Kashmir valley with the opening of its first outlet at Regal Chowk in Srinagar city. This expansion marks a significant milestone for Lenskart as it continues its mission to provide vision correction solutions to every individual across the country and beyond.

With seven successful stores already established in J&K UT’s Jammu city and plans underway for another outlet in Sanat Nagar, Srinagar, Lenskart aims to extend its presence to every nook and corner of Srinagar city.

“We have plans to expand our reach into other districts of Kashmir soon, ensuring accessibility to quality eyewear products and services for all residents,” said Dr Mohammad Mutaher Zerger, who heads Lenskart’s Portfolio and Franchisee Business Divisions.

Dr Mutaher is a seasoned professional with extensive experience in franchise management. Having previously served at McDonald’s, the new head of franchise at Lenskart brings valuable expertise in expansion strategies and operational excellence. “We are dedicated to providing state-of-the-art sophistication in eyewear technology, coupled with unparalleled customer service,” he added.

Lenskart’s commitment to accessibility and affordability is reflected in its offerings, including the innovative Buy One Get One (BOGO) facility available at all Lenskart outlets and online. Additionally, the brand provides complimentary eye testing facilities, ensuring that customers receive comprehensive care tailored to their needs.

Lenskart enters Kashmir market

Lenskart Founder, Shark Piyush Bansal’s Vision is to give correction-less vision to the entire India.

In line with its dedication to innovation and excellence, Lenskart recently inaugurated a cutting-edge robotic factory in Bhiwandi, where lens production and fittings are carried out with precision and efficiency. This advanced facility underscores Lenskart’s commitment to leveraging technology to deliver superior-quality products to its customers.

Lenskart enters Kashmir market

With a network of 1800 stores across India and a growing presence in international markets such as Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and the UAE, Lenskart is poised for further expansion into other countries in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions.

Lenskart’s entry into Kashmir signifies not only its commitment to providing vision correction solutions but also its dedication to empowering individuals with the gift of clear vision, enabling them to lead more fulfilling lives.


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Economic and Environmental Implications of Sand Mining in Kashmir Division



Environmental Implications of Sand Mining
Uzma Hameed
Dhaar Mehak M.

Sand mining is the process of extracting sand from in and around the rivers, streams, lakes etc. Sand is also mined from beaches and inland dunes and dredges from ocean beds and river beds. In modern times sand is considered to be an essential raw material for construction purposes. As such, individual and private companies are increasingly demanding sand for construction purposes and this has placed immense pressure on sand resources. As a practice it is becoming an environmental issue as the demand for sand has been persistently witnessing an increase in industry and construction sectors of the economy especially in the developing pockets of the world. In developing nations, including India the annual demand for sand has been witnessing a perpetual rise of 07%. This has led to both an increase in the demand and price of sand in the open market. At the same time, people have been witnessing a profitable venture out of mining sand both legally and illegally leading to a number of issues and concerns.

Mining has been identified as the spine of the construction and infrastructure-centric economic growth and development process of the developing world, India being no exception to the same. Given the geographic extent of the country, the sand resources in the country have been plenty. However, like any other natural resource, the quantum of sand in India is limited. The usage however has been in practice right from the pre-historic times, the demand and usage being all time high in the contemporary times. The first recorded history of mining in India dates back to 1774 when the English company was granted permission by the East India Company for mining coal in the Raniganj coal fields.

After the colonial independence of the country, the growth of mining under the aegis of successive five-year planning processes has been quite speedy. Mining is among the significant economic activities of the country. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution of mining in India ranges between 2.2% and 2.5%. Given the historicity associated with mining in the country, its extraction and utilization processes have undergone a major shift towards modernization. The economic reforms of the 1991 and 1993 National Mining Policy further especially contributed towards the growth of the mining sector. The Indian mining industry in contemporary times provides job opportunities to around 7 lakh individuals. Given the diversity of the mining activities across the country, each state specializes in a related activity that it possesses a comparative advantage in especially in light of the reserves.

Given the geographic nature and extent of the region of Jammu and Kashmir, sand deposits in the region have been a common sight. At the same time, given the cold climate of the region, the need for secure housing has always been prioritized by the populace and governance of Jammu and Kashmir. With the evolution of construction processes and techniques, the shift from traditional wooden houses towards modern concrete houses has been widely witnessed. One of the main raw materials used for the construction of such houses has been identified as sand.

There are approximately 261 mineral blocks across the districts of Kashmir amongst whom the majority are situated along the bank of the river Jhelum. The mineral blocks in Kashmir contain sand deposits and various other minerals. One of the mining hotspots of the Kashmir division is the town of Bijbehara, locally known as Vejibror. While Bijbihara is also known as the town of Chinars, it has historically been a significant contributor towards the local economy. The town is located on National Highway 44 along the extended banks of the Jhelum River. It is also known as “Town of Chinars”. It is situated about 45 km from the capital of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar.  Within the Bijbehara town, the area of Gadhanji-Pora is particularly the committed hotspot of mining activities. It is situated approximately half a kilometre away from the Sub-District headquarters of Bijbehara.

According to the stakeholders, the most prolific user of sand is the construction industry. Individuals are increasingly demanding sand for domestic and commercial construction purposes. While there has been an increase in both the demand and prices of the resource, it has placed immense pressure on the local sand resources and deposits. Locally sand is being used in almost every construction-related activity from cement and concrete to plastering, roofing, grouting, painting etc. It is also commonly used in constructions like mortar, concrete, and cement strength, mass and stability.

Because of its smooth texture, better bonding qualities, and low impurity concentration, river sand is the most often utilised in Kashmir due to its quality, quantity and availability. Sand is the key component of concertation. Sand mining is rampant at many places along the Jhelum River, especially in the Bijbehara.

 Given the extensive mining in the region, at certain points, the miners have breached the banks of rivers. The miners often drive their heavy vehicles straight into the water causing huge damages to the bunds along the river. These miners have lately also been using other heavy machinery like machine excavators and bulldozers in attempts to extract more sand in less time. By removing more sand than the rivers can naturally replace with the sediments it carries downstream, sand mining activities carve a deeper and narrower bed. It further goes on to lower the water levels in the river below the usual, speeds up the flow and erodes the banks. The biodiversity within and along the river is damaged. The fishes and other aquatic species that closely rely on the local bio-diversity are increasingly coming under threat.

Abdul Rehman, a local resident and fisherman, who has been fishing for the past 40 years describes his deteriorating experience, “Earlier if I covered an area of 3 km in the river, I would catch 6-8 kilograms of fish. Now, covering the same distance, I barely manage to catch 250 grams”. People from the Pazalpora area of Bijbehara, where the banks have been breached at multiple places, lament that they have been left all the more vulnerable to reoccurring floods because of unthoughtful activities like these.

The sand miners in and around the Bijbehara area of Anantnag district have been vandalizing the Jhelum River illegally. The damage is being increased manifold by the increasing use of heavy machinery for speedy mining of sand. After the devastating floods of 2014, the state government has been spending a significant amount of state money on the restoration, repair and upgrading of the banks of the river Jhelum. The so called and rightly called, ‘sand mafia’ across the valley in general and Bijbehara area in particular is breaching the sensitive river banks for the monetary interest of a few greedy people.

As such, as a collective voice basing our understanding on the facts mentioned above, it falls upon both people and the authorities to look deeper into the issue. As a matter of sustainability, now is the high time that the matter is dealt with an iron fist.

The authors are affiliated with the Department of Economics, Islamic University of Science and Technology and can be reached at

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Global eCommerce boom and local traders of Kashmir



Global eCommerce boom Kashmir

A Structural Shift in the Market Preferences

Dhaar Mehak M
Tabeen J Wali

The global eCommerce market was expected to be worth a total of $5.7 trillion by the end of 2022. That figure is estimated to grow over the next few years; exhibiting the fact that borderless eCommerce is becoming a profitable option for online retailers. It is giving a market space to one and all with a potential or product to sell. Only two years ago, 17.8% of sales globally were made from online purchases. That number is again expected to reach 20.8% by the end of 2023; a 2 percentage point increase in eCommerce market share. This growth is expected to continue, reaching 23% by 2025, translating to an increase of 5.2 percentage points in just five years.

Economic projections and forecasts predict the global retail sales growth to rise even further and take up more retail market share. According to research completed by eMarketer and Statista, online retail sales will reach $6.51 trillion by 2023, with eCommerce websites taking up 22.3% of total retail sales. Although retail has had it tough since 2020, every national market covered by eMarketer saw double-digit eCommerce growth. The trend continues globally: Latin America (including Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico) saw $104 billion in eCommerce sales in 2022, up 22.4% from $85 billion in 2021. The UK is forecasted to continuously increase by $85.7 billion (+42.88%) within the next years.

China continues to lead the global eCommerce market, accounting for 46.3% of all retail eCommerce sales worldwide, with total online sales just over the $2.8 trillion mark in 2022. It also has the world’s most digital buyers, 842.1 million, representing 39.4% of the global total. The US eCommerce market is forecasted to reach more than $904.9 billion in 2022, a little over a third of China’s. After China and the US, the third-largest eCommerce market is the United Kingdom, taking up 4.8% of the retail eCommerce sales share. The UK is followed by Japan (3%) and South Korea (2.5%). The top five eCommerce markets haven’t changed since 2018. Trends from eMarketer suggest that these markets will stay in the top five until 2025.

While the whole world has been witnessing the structural transformation and shift in terms of market transformations from retailing to online shopping, the Indian economy has been a part of the process. In light of the same, the Jammu and Kashmir economy has had an equal and equally growing participation in the same. The advent of the internet and the arrival of eCommerce technology in the lives of average Kashmiris have changed the shopping preferences and experiences of the locals. People no longer have to battle issues like vehicular traffic on the roads or wait in queues for long hours. Accredited to the growth of eCommerce technology, locals have been empowered to shop anywhere-anytime just at the click of a button.

However, in the recent past, there was no (or very limited) concept of eCommerce in Kashmir. Smartphone availability to the general public was rare. The masses were barely aware about the internet facilities and global communication channels. There was no idea of online shopping, online transactions, etc. With time and the availability of the internet along with the growing mobile phone penetration, eCommerce made its presence felt in the valley. However, due to slower internet connection issues like 2G and lack of awareness, people initially had apprehensions and thus were afraid of buying things online.

Global eCommerce boom Kashmir

Tracing the roots and history of online shopping awareness in J&K, it dates back to the year 2008 when the mobile internet was making its headway into the valley. People were gaining affordable and available access to wireless internet. It was around the same time that after bearing a lot of hardships with sorting out the supply chains Flipkart became operational and function in the region. the initial years were tough and hard but the company stood steadfast. It took some time for Flipkart to cut through lots of hurdles alone and get to success. Being the only player in the online market in the region for quite some time it was a big deal to keep surviving and floating. But the outcomes were a success.

Steadily as people gain access to quality internet services and advanced smartphone technology the word spread. It was observed that doorstep delivery was actually a reality. At the same time, the quality of the delivery matched the promises of the website. The trust factor got built. Witnessing optimism within the J&K market, other companies like Amazon, SnapDeal, and other local online stores, etc., started jumping in to tap into the growing eCommerce market. The consumers got the opportunity of choosing from a wide range of products. Not only that, discounts and sales from time to time offer big benefits to consumers.

All these factors have been contributing towards a structural market shift. People from across J&K have been moving from in-person retail shopping to online shopping. While the consumers in the region have surely benefitted both in terms of utility/satisfaction and profit maximization, the retailers have been losing.

The J&K economy is predominantly characterized as a consumer economy. The characteristics of being a producer and self-sufficient economy have been limited and rather absent for a long time. It is the retailer of J&K, who has been at the losing end on account of the growth of the online markets. Retailing has been one of the most common business ventures of people across the region of J&K. Setting up of the shops and selling various items has been a known venture. People for generations have been relying on this activity. Lately, the structural change is challenging this segment of J&K businessmen and the immediate solution visible is evolution. These businessmen, particularly retailers, need to adjust to the changing market and make themselves competitive enough to compete with global online sellers. The only other option is to let the business supper, deteriorate and shut down.

The authors are affiliated with the Department of Economics, Islamic University of Science and Technology & can be reached at and

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