SRINAGAR: Hundreds of families in Kashmir are staring at job losses as willow shortage hit the valley’s bat industry.
Spokesperson of Bat Manufacturers Union Fawzul Kabeer said that the industry has been producing bats and is meeting about 85 percent of the total demand of world cricket since 1920.
Fawzul who is also the owner of GR8 Sports and has provided bats to international cricketers said that nobody plants willow trees now causing the ongoing shortage.
“The government can intervene by planting willow saplings on wetlands, banks of water bodies, state land, marshy land and other lands available so that the willow will remain available in abundance and then bat can reach to every corner of the world,” he said.
Fawzul said that presently there are one lakh skilled and unskilled labourers associated with the industry besides five thousand families who are completely dependent on this industry. If this industry collapses, they will be jobless.
“The 50 percent of our work is getting affected as there is the shortage of supply and manufacturers are just able to produce 30-40 percent of bats as compared to their demand,” he said.
Willows are on the verge of extinction now in Kashmir and if the government won’t intervene, it is going to collapse.”
Firdous Ahmad Khan, owner of Khan International Sports and senior member of the association told that out of 205 units in the Halmulla-Sethar area of Anantnag, 50 have already closed their units while rest are not even able to produce 50 percent of the demand.
He said that willow is being given to other sectors like ply which must be stopped and willow must be kept only for bat industry as other sectors have options available.
He thanked the government that last they distributed 1500 willow saplings among the unit holders which they planted on their own land but it is not going to cater even units as each unit on average needs 15000 trees annually and needs to take immediate steps in this regard.