Booming courier service business goes bust in Kashmir
Floods devastate warehouses, destroy parcels worth millions of rupees
For past several days Adil, a young boy from Srinagar, is coming to a local courier service here to get his parcel. But every time he returns disappointed.
On September 5, two days before the floods hit Srinagar, Adil had received a call from the courier service asking him to collect his parcel containing some important documents, but he decided to get it on Monday (September 8).
On Sunday, September 7, massive floods struck Srinagar city causing devastation all around. The local courier services lost posts, parcels, packages worth crores of rupees. And, since then it has been an uphill task for them to persuade their customers about the loss of their goods.
Everyday noisy scenes are witnessed in the office of Blue Dart at Lal Chowk, here, with peeved customers desperately asking for their parcels and posts.
“Only 25 per cent customers are cooperative, while the rest literally fight with us,” Qari Zahoor, President Kashmir Courier Association says.
“Most of the shipments we received before the floods were shifted to warehouses. But before they could be delivered to the customers next day, floods struck and destroyed everything,” he explains.
According to Zahoor, the business of online shopping websites has grown exponentially over the years in Kashmir with some customers choosing ‘cash on delivery’ mode. “But those who have prepaid through net banking, are difficult for us to deal with for they want their goods, which have been destroyed by the floods, be returned to the companies while the latter refuse to take the goods back.”
“It is unfortunate that many people don’t understand that we are not responsible for the loss of their parcels,” he says.
But for customers like Adil, this is hard to believe. “A friend had dispatched me my graduation certificate from Bangalore to enable me to take admission here. But now I won’t be able to get admission here. I have to travel back to Bangalore to get duplicate certificate,” he says.
Pertinently, two weeks back the private courier companies across Kashmir came up with advertisements saying that all the pending dispatches with them till September 7 have been completely destroyed. This according to the courier association has caused huge losses to the courier services in Kashmir.
“Before the floods, the courier service business had grown to Rs 18 crore per year in Kashmir, which was expected to grow by 40 per cent next year. Almost four hundred orders including ‘cash on delivery’ were being delivered every day,” Zahoor says, adding that the business has however sharply dropped in the wake of floods.
Around 500 people are directly or indirectly involved with this trade in Kashmir, but the numbers may reduce to half or a quarter in the coming months.
“Two companies have already wound up their business,” Zahoor informs adding many more follow.
Moreover, he says the companies are under great stress these days as the government has not deputed officials to take stock of the loss caused to them.
“In our warehouses, stench emanates from damp and destroyed goods. We want to clear them but the commercial sales tax department has not deputed inspectors to check them. If we destroy goods we fear it may result in fine,” Zahoor says.