Trail of devastation at Lal Chowk as water recedes

Shops filled mud and sewage, goods turned into mound of debris
Estimation of losses beyond imagination: KTMF president

lal chowkAs water has started to recede at several places in city centre Lal Chowk, trails of devastation caused by the worst-ever floods in Valley on September 7 are still visible.
All shops at Regal Chowk, Residency Road, Lambert Lane, Abi Guzar and Maisuma are filled with piles of mud and sewage while the goods in the shops have turned into mound of debris.
Many shopkeepers were cleaning up their shops and retrieve whatever goods may have escaped the water fury.
Muneer Hussain Qureshi, owner of Valley’s biggest electronic shop, World Vision, was still not able to come to terms after seeing damage caused to his shop by the floods.
“I can’t figure out the total estimation of damage. I had goods worth crores in the shop and everything has been lost.  I have 45 employees, who used to get salaries upto Rs 13000 and  I don’t know how I can afford them anymore. I have lost everything,” he said.
Like World Vision, another famous shop of Lal Chowk, Raja colour lab dealing with expensive cameras and other electronic gadgets too has suffered losses worth  crores of rupees.
“All the digital cameras, photo printing machine, computers along with other expensive items have turned into debris. I am still assessing the damage  but it is atleast more than Rs 1 crore,” said owner of the shop  Haji Mohammad Yaqoob.
Lal Chowk is the business centre of Kashmir, where some of the big shops and showrooms are located.
Ghulam Hassan Naqash, owner of handicraft shop, “Brilliant arts and crafts” at Residency Road was speechless to see all Pashmina shawls and other expensive accessories in his business establishment drenched with muddy water.
“All is lost. I am left with nothing,” he said.
Owner of the toy shop in Lal chowk, Toys Kemp, Mohammad Ashraf  said he has suffered losses to the tune of Rs 55 lakhs by the floods.
“There is only mud everywhere.  All the toys were washed away. It will be hard to start the shop again. I don’t know what I will do with these damaged toys,” he said.
Most parts of Lal Chowk are still inaccessible and most of the shopkeepers are yet to open there shops to assess the damages.
The market of Polo view, Ghanta Ghar and Court Road are still under water. While markets like Maharaj Bazar, Koker Bazar and Forest Lane are dry but roads are full of mud, slush and garbage.
Kashmir Traders and Manufactures federation (KTMF) president Mohammad Yasin Khan said estimation of losses is beyond imagination.
“The damage in Lal Chowk is huge and it is beyond calculation. We have asked everyone to assess the damage and in due course of time we will come out with the proper assessment report,” he said.
The situation is no better in Maisuma area of Lal chowk.
“All my papers along with other items were submerged in the floods,” said Sajad Ahmad, owner of stationary shop, Expressions at Gaw Kadal.
He said he had just bought A-4 paper worth Rs 1 lakh and it was all destroyed. “It took me nine years to establish my business and I have lost everything in floods”.
There is also a strong resentment among the shopkeepers against the government for not lending any help to them to clean the city.
“There are piles of garbage everywhere in Lal Chowk and administration has not made any arrangement so far to clean the area. If the debris are not cleaned, there can be an outbreak of epidemic,” said shopkeepers.

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