The process to distribute the funds has started and the stakeholders have been contacted to complete the initial formalities, said officials.
A senior functionary in the administration said the decision was taken after various delegations from different sectors met lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha and his advisors and expressed their concerns. However, workers in these sectors are not satisfied with the paltry amount allocated and other measures taken for their rehabilitation and resuscitation of their livelihoods, said people aware of the matter.
The person cited earlier said the administration has decided to deposit Rs 9,000 each in the bank accounts of about 2,738 people. This would be a nominal compensation of Rs 1,000 per month for performing artists for a period of nine months from April to December this year. This amount is around Rs 2.43 crore. However, performing artists said the financial assistance is very less and should have been Rs 5,000-10,000 per month.
“Government should increase the compensation amount and the money should reach only deserving and genuine performing artists, especially those who are in a really bad financial condition,” Mushtaaque Ali Ahmad Khan, chairman of Actor’s Creative Theatre, told ET.
For shikara and houseboat owners and their workers the administration has kept an amount of Rs 12 crore to be deposited in their accounts, said an official. Each person would get Rs 9,000 for a period of nine months. Besides, the government has renewed an earlier decision of providing 80 per cent subsidy to houseboat owners for installation of bio-digesters.
“Our business was destroyed by the government when they issued an advisory in July 2019, asking tourists not to visit Kashmir. We have been suffering acutely and packages like these are like rubbing salt on our wounds,” said Abdul Hamid Wangnoo, chairman, Kashmir Houseboat Owners Association.
He said about 15 houseboats sank in the water bodies in the past one year for lack of repair and renovation. “We haven’t seen any for a very long time now. How will a shikarawala run his household with Rs 9,000 for nine months,” said Wangnoo.
Some shikarawalas have listed their names for the compensation. However, Wangnoo said houseboat owners have decided not to register for this meagre compensation. “We have to spend around Rs 1 lakh every year for cocking, coring and repair of houseboat. What will we do with this money?” he said.
Since August 5 last year, the Valley has recorded a business loss of Rs 40,000 crore and about 500,000 people have lost their jobs, according to a report released by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Transport was one of the worst-hit sectors. The administration has decided to give assistance of Rs 5,000 for insurance of heavy motor vehicles, Rs 2,000 for taxis and Rs 2,000 for three-wheelers. An amount of Rs 50 crore has been earmarked for this. Also, a subsidy of 50 per cent or Rs 5 lakh, whichever is less, would be provided for replacement of old buses. An amount of Rs 25 crore has been kept for this.
The administration has also asked the drivers and cleaners of public transport to get registered with the labour department to get the benefit of Rs 6,000 as a compensation for six months of unemployment. An amount of Rs 80 crore has been allocated for this.
However, transporters termed the government compensation contrary to their demands and what was promised during the meetings with the functionaries of the government.
“Transport is worst hit in last 30 years and we have been sitting idle for 14 months now,” said Sheikh Yousuf, general secretary of Kashmir Transport Welfare Association.
Transporters had demanded extension of the validity of earlier insurance for a year and that renewal of documents be made penalty-free, as they could not go to government offices in time owing to restrictions and lockdown. They had also requested the government for waiver of tuition fee of their children.
However, instead of giving relief the token tax was doubled, said Yousuf. “Fifty per cent of vehicles aren’t plying today as they don’t have insurance or the owners don’t have money for the repair,” he said.
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