Cafe owners, traders upset with Boulevard closure in Srinagar

Srinagar, September 26 (KMS): In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the mega air show being conducted over Dal Lake by the Indian Air Force (IAF) among other objectives will also help boost tourism, an official spokesman said.

However, traders, restaurant owners and the transporters who ply their vehicles on the Boulevard seem to be upset with the closure of the iconic road for two days.

As part of ongoing celebration commemorating ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, Air Force Station, Srinagar, conducted an air show at Dal Lake in Srinagar on Saturday and will continue on Sunday as well.

Whenever the authorities plan to shut down Boulevard, most of the time, it’s on the weekend”, said Kamran Nisar, owner of the Winterfell Cafe at Boulevard.

He said, if one looks at the amount of loss suffered by any single-unit operator due to the Boulevard closure, it’s approximately over Rs 2 lacs.

He further said, “In a month, especially in Kashmir, 25 days are those where a business operator earns for paying his necessary bills and the rest of the weekend days earn them a profit. Here, he alleges, the government turns their profit-making day into a loss.

Sheikh Sameer, owner of cafe Fat Panda lamented that the closure of Boulevard has become a norm for the authorities. “They have become so immune now, that they shut down this main road every now and then without any planning,” he added.

He added, “We are dependent on the local customers and when the Government bars any movement of the locals on this road, we suffer a loss of more than Rs 70,000 every single day and no one in the administration even bothers about it.”

“No one’s stopping the government from conducting such shows but why make a business owner suffer, given the ongoing poor status of Kashmir’s economy.” Sameer said.

Abdur Rasheed Muqaam, a sumo driver, who ferries passengers from Dalgate to Nishat questioned the authorities’ idea of holding such shows at the cost of one’s daily bread. “This everyday closure of the road has become a new norm for the already suffering transport community. We save a good quantity of petrol while travelling from the Boulevard as this stretch is quite straight and without much traffic jam”, Rasheed said

Wahid Malik, President of Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Owners Federation (KHAROF), maintains that the issue of closing down the road during the VIP moment has been there for decades and they have apprised the authorities of the inconvenience they face due to it from time to time.