Jammu and Kashmir National Conference on Thursday sought mitigation of the impact of lost wages of the unorganized labour force in J&K due to the prevailing situation besides requesting the government of India and state governments to ensure that stranded students, businessmen, labourers in Bangladesh and in other parts of the country are properly taken care of which includes providing safe shelter and food.
Party’s Member of Parliament from Anantnag (Retd) Justice Hasnain Masoodi on Thursday sought effective central government intervention in helping the stranded students in Bangladesh and other parts of the country. “The concerned authorities must come to the rescue of such students and provide them with every possible help including food, accommodation and safe repatriation to Kashmir,” he said.
While expressing concern over the poorest of the poor and the daily wagers who are hit hard due to the prevailing situation, he said, “The earning of the daily wagers mostly unorganized labors, hawkers, and marginal traders is already uncertain as far as J&K is concerned. Previous lockdowns, curfews and communication blockage also had a crushing blow on the people who live by hand to mouth. It goes without saying how adverse an impact the present lockdown will have on the unorganized labor force, who happens to be the vastest and ubiquitous section of society in J&k. The economy of J&K is already on the brink of imminent collapse in wake of a decline in tourism, less horticulture produces, and little to no construction work since 5th of August 2019. It has not been too long since some economic activity started picking up only to die down again due to COVID19 threat.”
Masoodi said the marginalized traders, unorganized workforce are the most ill-fated lot in J&k. “The unorganized sector, a sizeable chunk of our society do not see any light at the end of the tunnel. Owing to the diminutive business prospects in J&k, most the people had started to venture out to other parts of the country to earn a decent livelihood for their families. However, their businesses are again going up in flames due to the global outbreak of COVID-19. The government, unfortunately, seems to have shut its eyes to them allowing them to suffer,” he said.
Masoodi said the economy of J&K is in the throes of calamitous crisis and that small and marginal entrepreneurs, daily wagers, casual workers, and small traders are the worst hit. “The government should sincerely think about doling out advance payments to old age pensioners, enhance food grain subsidies, and immediate payment of rural job schemes, wage arrears besides ensuring distribution of personal hygiene material and other items. One cannot expect people who are already tight-fisted to spend on such important and necessary things. So far the response of the J&K government towards the economic crisis has been abysmal, and not in line with other states and UT’s, where local government have gone an extra mile to mitigate the suffering of its people by dolling out special packages. We are yet to see the government to come to the rescue of people in J&K,” he said.
He sought a comprehensive economic package from the government to mitigate the hardship resulting from COVID-19 to the most vulnerable people and establishment across J&k.
Meanwhile, party’s member of Parliament from Baramulla Muhammad Akbar Lone sought deferment of due dates of making payment of water and electricity bills by two months and has urged the government to subsidize such payments by 50%. “Monthly rations for the months of April, May should be provided free to all BPL families and at more subsidized rates to APL families. We are going through an unprecedented situation; it requires an empathetic response from the government. The lackluster attitude of the government will only add to the woes of people particularly poor. It would be better if the hawkers, daily wagers are provided assistance by putting money directly into their respective bank accounts,” he said.
Party’s senior leaders and former ministers Mian Altaf Ahmad, and Sakina Itoo have sought massive public distribution of essential items including personal hygiene material by the government to the people living in all far-flung areas of J&K. Besides the two leaders demanded enhanced bonus for frontline workers including doctors, paramedic staff, police, ground staffers of municipal committees, PHE and power. They also sought effective testing facilities in far-flung areas and enhancement of medical staff in the hilly districts of Kashmir.