Jobs are drying up in Kashmir with CMIE reporting 23 per cent unemployment for April, even as the data was disputed by the government officials.
A large number of workers — mostly from Bihar, Punjab, West Bengal, and Jharkhand — flocking to the valley to earn a good livelihood for decades are reporting finding little to now work as compared to pre-COVID levels.
Naba Paswan, a daily wage labourer from Bihar, has been coming to Hawal Chowk every morning in the hope of getting some work.
“Before COVID, work was good but now there is no work, I have been sitting idle for 10 days. There is no work and now the wages are also low,” Paswan told PTI. Bikhari Ram, another labourer from Bihar, said the number of working days has dropped drastically.
“We travelled thousands of kms to earn something but there is no work here. I have a family to feed. What can we do? I am not earning enough for my own survival. What can I do for the family?
“There is no work. We only get 15 days of work in one month and sometimes just 10 days or even only five days,” he added.
Faika Javid, a graduate, said educated youth are falling into depression due to unemployment.
“Youth are completing degrees and sitting at home. This leads to depression and increase in suicidal cases. It’s not only about Kashmir, there are other states of India also where unemployment is a big issue,” she said.
Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) in its April report claimed that the unemployment rate in Jammu and Kashmir was a whopping 23 per cent.
However, an official of the Jammu and Kashmir government dismissed the report saying it was not reflective of the real situation.
“There are different views about it. The survey has not been conducted accurately which could have actually determined the rate of unemployment.
“According to the Department’s survey, in coordination with District Development Commissioners, the unemployment rate was 7.04 per cent for last financial year. Thereafter we did a survey according to the method of one village and one tehsil in every district,” Director Employment Nisar Ahmad Wani said.
“We covered 206 villages with 206 tehsils of UT but urban areas have not been included. The unemployment rate carried out by that survey came out to be 8.04 per cent,” he said.
Wani said according to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation the unemployment rate for the last two quarters is 13 per cent to 13.02 per cent respectively.
Wani said there were two lakh youth registered as unemployed on the portal of the Employment Department.
In an exercise carried out by the government in 2012, more than six lakh youth had registered themselves with the department as unemployed.
In 2020, Jammu and Kashmir Service Selection and Recruitment Board conducted a written examination for 10,000 posts. As many as 5.94 lakh candidates appeared in that examination, indicating that the number of unemployed were more or less the same since 2012, at least among the educated youths.
Wani, though, admitted the unemployment was increasing in Kashmir. “Unemployment rate is always fluctuating depending upon time of the year and academic session as well. It has been gradually increasing but not to any severe extent,” he added.