Srinagar, Jul 15 (IANS): The iconic carpet industry of Kashmir is facing a sharp decline forcing most carpet weavers to take up odd jobs for earning their livelihood.
At Gada-khud village in Bandipore, 30 kms from Srinagar, the majority of the 400 households are carpet weavers. But with most handlooms shut the carpet weavers have taken up menial jobs.
The weavers say demonitisation, abrogation of Article 370 and the economic downturn due to ongoing pandemic has dealt a big blow to Kashmir's multi-crore carpet industry.
For years Nazir Ahmad with five of his family members have been weaving carpets at a handloom in their house. But with hardly any buyers during the last one year they have stopped making carpets.
"We are facing major losses and not able to earn anything. We haven't made a single carpet in the last one year," Nazir Ahmad said. "We don't get good rates for carpets, so we have stopped making carpets."
The acute financial crisis has forced Nazir Ahmad's son Mohammad Hussain to move to Srinagar to work as a labour.
"There is no other option for me. I earn Rs 400 daily as a labour which is barely enough to meet the expenses of the family," says Hussain.
According to estimates one lakh people were associated with carpet making in Kashmir.
"The COVID-19 induced lockdown following the abrogation of Article 370 caused a sharp decline in the number of tourists coming to Kashmir, which also impacted the carpet business," said Ghulam Mohammad, a carpet trader.
"The exporters are also telling us that there are no buyers for carpets. But we are hoping that the things will improve," said Mohammad.