Artisans killing time at Kashmir Haat, no business, rue govt apathy


Artisans from Kashmir Valley are not happy with the Handicrafts Department for outsourcing ‘Kashmir Haat’ to dealers for a period of 4 months. They say Department is trying to generate revenue for itself, ignoring the plight of artisans.

Pertinently, the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handloom has outsourced the existing facilities at Kashmir Haat including stalls, food courts, kiosks, and amusement area for a period of 4 months to the ‘highest bidder’. The contract has gone into the kitty of two persons hailing from Jammu and Ludhiana Punjab.

Sheikh Tahir Batwani, President ‘Dastgeer Artisans Welfare Society’ told the news agency Kashmir News Trust that there was a proposal to hold two exhibitions for artisans in a month but instead of holding those exhibitions and encouraging the tourists to visit the Kashmir Haat, the Department of Handicrafts and Handloom is after money, outsourcing Kashmir Haat to dealers and firms for fair, circus and recreational purposes.

“A lot of money was spent to uplift the Kashmir Haat in the interest of artisans but instead of doing something good, the department finds new ways and means to generate money, ignoring the artisans,” he said.

Batwani claimed that the contractor who got the contract to run fair at Kashmir Haat was supposed to pay Rs 45 lakh in advance but only a meager amount has been taken from him. “We don’t know what’s happening and why the department is doing all this?,” he said adding that the contractors have disfigured the beauty of Kashmir Haat.

Another artisan said that if the department is so keen to generate revenue then it should hand over the Kashmir Haat to vendors running flea market in Srinagar.

Shopkeepers sell genuine shawls, paper machie, jewellery, namda, carpets that too at a fixed price.

“Most of the artisan shops are closed at Kashmir Haat. There is no business. Tourists don’t visit here as the department doesn’t do anything to highlight it. No publicity is given about this market,” said a shopkeeper adding that they are not against outsourcing but at least the department should hold some exhibitions here for the welfare of the artisans unfortunately, non-locals are reaping the benefits and they are given priority.

The artisans said that Kashmir has been witnessing a huge footfall of tourists but unfortunately, that doesn’t benefit them at all because of the callous attitude of the department. [KNT]

Neyaz Elahi

Neyaz Elahi, who switched from Electronic to Print Media is a Kashmir based Accredited Journalist who has written extensively on Kashmir for local, national and international web portals. He is currently associated with Srinagar based News Agency Kashmir News Trust (KNT).

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