Hit By Dual Lockdowns, Kashmiri Hawkers In A State of Crisis

India's Kashmir valley has been in a state of lockdown, much before the COVID-19 imposed lockdown in the rest of India, since August 5, 2019. It has hit street vendors, hawkers and daily wagers the hardest.

27 year old Suhail Ahmad, a resident of Shopian used to sell different commodities on the streets of Shopian town. Sole earner in his family, Suhail supports 5 people in his home and used to earn ₹1000 on an average every day. Due to the shutdown, local authorities have restricted commercial activities in Shopian, just like other parts of Kashmir. This has affected the livelihood of more than 500 families in Shopian. All of them used to depend on their daily wages and earnings.

Interestingly, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs recently launched a micro-credit scheme for street vendors. This was formally presented to the nation by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 14, 2020 as part of an economic package. When we contacted Shopian's Deputy Commissioner enquiring about the same, he said restrictions on small scale businesses will continue unless the spread of Coronavirus is contained.

Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi Scheme is aimed at benefiting over 50 lakh vendors who had their businesses operational on or before March 24, the date when the country went into lockdown. The scheme will be running till March 2022. Vendors will be able to apply for a  loan of up to ₹10000, which is repayable in monthly installments within a year. An official, on condition of anonymity, told this Video Volunteers community correspondent that they have not received any directions from the Union govt. on the economic package for street vendors.

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Last year too they couldn't earn anything as the lockdown was imposed just before their earning season.

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