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Kashmir: Tourism hit as uncertainty looms large

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 Forty-seven-year-old Mohammad Sultan is a worried man. The Srinagar taxi owner bought a brand new Toyota Crysta car for Rs 19 lakh, exclusively for tourists right at the start of the Amarnath Yatra in July. He hoped to do some brisk business at the tourist taxi stand on the boulevard road. He paid Rs 10 lakh from his pocket and took a bank loan of another nine lakh. Little did he know that all his hopes would be dashed to the ground right in the middle of a thriving tourism season. For just when yatra had peaked, the news of scrapping of Article 370 came as a bolt from the blue bringing Kashmir  to a halt and also its economy.
“I have failed to pay the EMI of Rs 18,000 for the last two months. It is a major loss for me. I have been a transporter for the last 25 years but have never seen such a bad situation. On any normal day I would earn more than Rs 3,000, but since the abrogation of Article 370, I haven’t earned a single rupee,” Mohammad Sultan said.
Joblessness everywhere Sultan is not alone. There are close to 200 taxis just at the boulevard tourist taxi stand. All of them without work days now. Most of the owners and drivers, jobless at the moment, are sceptical and don’t see the situation normalising in Kashmir anytime soon.
Also Read https://www.siasat.com/lockdown-major-blow-kashmir-tourism-1596610/ “This taxi stand would fetch a revenue of Rs 5,00,000 per day, but now the revenue has come down to Zero. A group of high-end tourists were scheduled to arrive in Kashmir next month, most of our cars had already been booked. But now their tour operator has diverted the group and cancelled their Kashmir trip,” said Ali Mohammad another taxi driver.
Opposite to this taxi stand, on the other side of the road, life on the picturesque Dal lake has come to a standstill. Shikaras are empty and parked along the edge of the lake.
In the months before the abrogation of Article 370 the Dal Lake was bustling with tourists flocking for shikara rides. But all that has changed. Houseboats and hotels are empty.

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