Srinagar, Sep 12: Workers of Athwajan, Panthachowk, and Zewan stone quarry urged the LG administration on Monday to rehabilitate them as they have been jobless since the government disallowed stone quarrying in these areas.
Scores of workers told Rising Kashmir that before 2019, they were engaged in stone quarrying at these places. During the BJP-PDP government, it was decided to shut down the Athwajan quarry site with a promise to allocate new sites in the Zewan area.
Bashir Ahmad an erstwhile worker stated that since 2019, the majority of people are unemployed, as many of them made a living from this activity and were also preserving the heritage of Kashmiri stone craftsmanship.
He mentioned that these sites provided construction materials to the entire region at fair prices, and around one lakh people earned their livelihood from these quarrying sites. In 2018, the Athwajan quarry site was initially closed by the government. Following this, local associations collectively met with officials, who assured them they will provide them new quarry sites in the Zewan area. However, nothing has been done to date.
He emphasized that since 2019, all quarry sites across Jammu and Kashmir were auctioned off without consideration for the local population, leaving the people in these areas unemployed.
He further stated that people in these areas had been involved in this business for decades, and suddenly, they found themselves without jobs. "We have educated people who are now unemployed; how can they support their livelihoods?" There are hundreds of families whose daughters are supposed to get married, and their parents are making desperate appeals, but their pleas are going unheard.
The people in these areas have urged the LG administration to rehabilitate them or provide compensation so they can earn a living.
Meanwhile, local social activist Dr Audil Farooq Mir said that the people in these areas have been suffering greatly as they were solely dependent on stone quarrying. Despite promises by the then BJP-PDP government to provide alternative sites, these people have been left in a state of shock, with no other sources of livelihood available to them.
He mentioned that he visited the office of the Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir and the Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar, but no positive developments have occurred for the common people. “While Srinagar city undergoes major redevelopment for the benefit of the common people, the residents of these areas are being deprived of their livelihoods, which they have depended on for decades through stone quarrying,” Mir said.