Kashmir’s handicraft industry in ruins after floods

Every year the onset of autumn is a great time for the artisans of Kashmir. For some its the season to finish handcrafting their shawls and carpets that take months to be designed. For others who work as farmers during the summer months, its the time to harvest their rice and apples and get back to designing their handicrafts, as they do every year. But this years autumn would prove to be the toughest season for the people of Kashmir after floods devastated the himalayan valley.

On September, 9, 2014, Jehlum, one of the biggest rivers in kashmir, broke its banks and flooded the entire valley. Srinagar, the capital and the hub of handicrafts in Kashmir was among the worst hit. As a result more than 450 people lost their lives and thousands have lost their homes. Building and streets that were once bustling with people are completely damaged. Among the worst affected are the artisans and the handicrafts shops in Srinagar

Today, the nerve centre of business in Kashmir resembles a ghost town covered in a think layer of mud and silt. Several building have been reduced to rubble by the flow of the water and all the stock that the shopkeepers had prepared for the winter tourist season has been inundated. Since handicrafts is a major source of revenue for the people of Kashmir and most of the stock is usually uninsured, there is no way for the people to recover the lost money. Artisans have lost everything from raw material as well as finished products worth millions. Looms and other tools used for centuries to craft shawls, carpets, furniture and paper machie have also been damaged. To make things worse, hundreds of damage handicraft showrooms have left the industry at a standstill as the pashmina weavers are left with no other option but to start again from the beginning.

Meanwhile, the business owners including the people involved in handicrafts are estimating losses in excess of $5 billion. Experts believe that it could take anything from several months to even years for life in kashmir to come back to normal.

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Categories: Business, Curiosity, Featured

Author: Kashmir Shawl Atelier

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