Sheikh Ajaz, owner of the Valley's biggest publication house, Gulshan Publishers, like many others, is visibly perturbed by the water-drenched and slush-seeped books in his three-storey shop at Srinagar's Lal Chowk, Kashmir's equivalent to Delhi's Connaught Place.
As owners on Saturday stepped in, with water level down at several patches at Lal Chowk, Kashmir's commercial hub gives a look of a war-ravaged and bombarded stretch. Hundreds of shops selling local, national and international brands have their goods turned into mounds of debris in front of them. Devastating flood, which hit the city on September 7, has turned goods worth hundreds of crores of rupees muddy and unusable.
"No book is left in my shop. All gone. My godown at Bemina, too, is also under water. Except for Kalhana's Rajatarangni, which was stored elsewhere, I have no copy of any of my publications," said Ajaz, whose publication house is considered as repository on Jammu and Kashmir.
Just metres away, Hilal Ahmad, owner of Srinagar's known newspaper and bookshop, Khan News Agency, is cleaning up his shop with no books on shelves. "I was able to shift books to the top shelf. But water reached there too. These are the books," he points towards a mound of debris.
All shops lined up at Polo View, Residency Road, Lambert Lane, Abu Guzar and Ghanta Ghar are being emptied by the owners with a mop. From designer hand-woven shawls to dry fruits to electronic gadgets shops, all are layered with slush. "We own one designer shoe shop, two branded garments shops. All gone. Nothing is left," said Irfan Lanker, a businessman, who owns a shop at Polo View.
Ghulam Ahmad Liagaroo, general secretary of the Kashmir Traders Federation, stares at `30000 crore damage to the business community.
"We have asked businessmen to furnish details. The losses are phenomenal. I am not able to imagine the magnitude," said Fayaz Ahmad Punjabi, an executive member of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI).
"All we want immediately done is that those shops and goods that were insured should be given 60% of the insurance amount as soon as possible. It is important for us to limp back for what we have met," said Punjabi.
Kashmir's premier bank, J&K Bank, is convening special meeting of the J&K State Level Bankers Committee (JKSLBC) on September 23 in Jammu to discuss ways and means to bring back business community back on rails in the Valley.
"The banking sector is confronting fear of tremendous strain on its assets (loans and advances). Let me be frank enough to state that if a trillion of economic loss stands estimated in the Valley floods, be sure it's equally the banking sector here in J&K that is going to face trillions of miseries," wrote Sajad Bazaz, a J&K Bank employee, in his column for a local daily.
"In fact the revival and rehabilitation of the affected people in trade, commerce and industry sectors is directly proportional to the standard asset base of these banks," he added.
Mushtaq Ahmad, a shawl dealer, claims that the Valley will take a decade to bounce back from the losses. "This will have a trickle effect. Growing consumerism will see a slump now. Assets will remain stagnant. These are difficult times for all of us," said Ahmad.
3,00,000 houses have got either fully or partially damaged.
Rs 25,000 crore damage incurred on public infrastructure
12,553 roads damaged
Rs 3,000 crore damage to agriculture and horticulture
Rs 500 crore dent to transport sector
Rs 30,000 crore damage to business sector
ASSOCHAM sees a loss of Rs 5700 crore
The government figures peg losses between Rs 50,000 to 60,000 crores
(These are rough estimates submitted by Srinagar-based organizations, like Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS), Kashmir Traders Federation)