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Human Voice

On verge of extinction, famous old city market craves for Govt attention

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‘Shopkeepers shifting to other places following decline in business’

The century-old heritage market in the downtown area of Srinagar is at the verge of extinction as the government has failed to take requisite measures to keep the market afloat.

The shopkeepers in the market said that majority businessmen have shifted to other places following the decline in business here.

“The increase in number of markets across the Valley is one of the major causes of the decline in the business in this market,” Muhammad Yaseen, one of the coppersmith at Zaina Kadal market said.

Sitting idle at his old shop, located near Botshah Tomb, Yaseen said he is doing business in this market from the last 48 years.

However, he said over the years the business in the market has changed to a large extent.

“The only positive change that has taken place all these years was the road widening, otherwise the market has been neglected by all the successive governments to date,” Yaseen said.

About the decline in business, Yaseen said that after the opening of market places in every locality and district, people prefer to visit the markets closer to them.

“Many of the malls have also come up, which is the first preference for the people at present,” he said.

According to Yaseen, the modernization has affected the business of the old market and at the same time, the government didn’t pay attention to keep the market’s charm alive.

Mehraj-ud-din, a shoe seller in the old city market, said that as the government failed to give attention to the market, the shopkeepers here preferred to open up their business units at other places.

“The people have no need to visit old city markets as besides old shops, there is nothing. There was a time when people use to throng this market due to bus stand and a post office here, but not anymore,” he said.

“Government should open up offices in the old market and shift the bus stand back, to revive the market,” 70-year-old Mehraj-ud-din said.

Abdul Aziz Bazaz and his brother, sitting at their shop in Zaina Kadal, said that their ancestors used to sell Pashmina and other similar material at the shop almost 140 years ago.

“Due to some issues, we started the wholesale business of Kiryana items a century ago,” they said.

The duo said the time has changed in the last couple of decades.

“I remember the time when customers used to stay at our house for a night due to rush at the shop. But, today only a few customers visit throughout the day,” they said. “The market has lost its charm completely.”

They said the government six months back started a process of upgrading the market and came up with similar boards for the shopkeepers.

“This is the only visible step that government has taken to revive the old market over the years,” Bazaz brothers said.

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