Farhat Naik

Snowfall: Apple industry faces losses worth crores

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KCC&I puts losses around Rs 500 Cr 

Srinagar: As the untimely snowfall put life in Kashmirnd Chenab Valley out of gear, impacting all spheres of life,  the worst hot have been those affiliated with apple trade as the industry faced losses of crores of rupees in the wake of damages to the crop and also apple trees.

From Syed Ali Geelani to Mehbooba Mufti and from Omar Abdullah to M Y Tarigami, almost all political leaders have extended support to the farmers and asked the state government to take up assessment of losses and compensation to the sufferes.

A large number of fruit-laden apple trees in Kashmir have either have been uprooted or their stems have broken due to heavy snowfall on Saturday, horticulture department officials said.

The worst affected orchards are in Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Bandipora and parts of Baramulla districts, the officials said.

“Some apple varieties which are plucked late in autumn were still on the trees. The exact losses can be determined only after a detailed survey but as per conservative estimates fruit worth several crores have been lost due to the snow,” added the officials.

Orchardists are demanding the government to set up teams for assessment of losses and demand compensation.

“There has been lot of damage to apple orchards, especially in south Kashmir areas. The government should immediately order loss assessment and compensation,” said Shakeel Ahmad, an orchardist from Pulwama.

The Bandipora district administration has already fanned out teams from the revenue department to assess losses to orchards and private property due to the snowfall.

“The revenue teams are inspecting losses at orchards and private property since early morning (Sunday) for prompt compensation and assistance,” Deputy Commissioner Bandipora Shahid Choudhary said.

Lauding the Bandipora administration, National Conference leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah said other districts should follow the Bandipora administration’s lead.

Expressing sorrow over the farming losses, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti asked the state administration to assess the quantum of damage suffered by the horticulture industry which was in peak harvest season.

She also appealed to the central government to consider a package for the fruit growers whose produce had been lost due to the extreme weather conditions.

PDP MLAs Haseeb Drabu and Aijaz Ahmad Mir, who represent major apple growing assembly constituencies in Pulwama and Shopian districts respectively, called for attention towards the plight of farmers.

“An early snowfall in the valley has disrupted city life which is being talked about. No one seems to have noticed the extensive damage to the apple crop and fruit bearing trees resulting in income loss. State government must estimate and compensate the loss (sic),” Drabu said in microblogging site Twitter.

Meanwhile, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry has expressed its anguish at the damage to crops, fruits and trees throughout Kashmir Valley due to the snowfall, a statement issued today said.

Preliminary reports received from various Fruit Associations including Anantnag suggest that losses upwards of Rs 500 crore have been incurred and irreparable damage caused to trees, plantations and orchards.

“We appeal to the whole community to stand behind our brothers in distress and extend support in whatever manner possible,” the statement said.

The avoidable delay in implementation of Crop Insurance Schemes has ensured that farmers and orchardists are deprived of any sort of insurance cover which could have proved to be of critical importance at this juncture.

The KCC&I has been demanding laying of underground cables for power transmission since years now. This would have saved crore in T&D Losses and would have ensured hassle-free power supply in the winter months, but the Power Development Department instead chose to waste thousands of crores in laying of covered cables on transmission poles. The results are out and its time that some accountability was sought.

Farmers in Chenab Valley too suffer

Bhadarwah (J&K), Nov 4 (PTI) Record-breaking snowfall has thrown life out of gear in Doda and adjoining districts in Chenab Valley with farmers and orchardists fearing huge financial losses.

The local meteorological department has figures for only 20 years after its establishment and such a heavy snowfall in the first week of November had happened for the first time in the past two decades, meteorologist Ramesh Sharma told PTI.

Locals claim such a heavy snowfall has happened in the areas after more than four decades, catching them unprepared for the ensuing winter.

The snowfall in the inhabited areas, ranging from three inches to over three feet, was recorded in different areas of the district, forcing closure of Bhadarwah-Basohli highway, Kishtwar-Sinthan Top road and Bhadarwah-Chamba interstate road while many far-flung areas got cut-off, officials said.

The people complained about drinking water scarcity and virtual breakdown of electricity in majority of the villages.

“Bhadarwah valley experienced heavy snowfall in 1978 but after November 15. I have never witnessed snowfall in first week of November in the last 40 years,” said Balwant Raj (62) of panchayat Chinchora.

He said the early snowfall is not a good omen for farmers, cattle rearers and labour class as all the development and other construction works would be suspended till march, which means “we will get no work for five months and this a scary situation.”

Saif Din Dhakad, a farmer from village Kota Top-Kharangal of Bhallesa, said they were expecting a good yield this year as there was bumper maize crop but sudden and unseasonal snowfall shattered all their hopes as maize was still either in the fields or was kept on rooftops to dry but overnight snowfall on Saturday damaged everything.

Not only farmers and labour class but early snowfall also sent fruit growers in a tizzy.

“Due to overnight snowfall most of our orchards got damaged as the snow is not only unseasonal but quite heavier than normal,” Ahmed Mustafa of Upper Dhadhkai Bhallesa said.

He said normally pruning of fruit trees is performed in December after there is no leaf left on the trees because some variety of apple and walnut and persimmon only ripens by November end.

Horticulture development officer, Bhaderwah, Abid Hussain said they are assessing the damage caused by the snowfall.

“Some variety of apples and persimmon were still on trees. We have activated the field staff to assess the damage,” he said.

However, Hussain said the snow poses threat to only weak plants and would have no far reaching consequences.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, Traffic, Zohaib Hassan said the main highway connecting Doda with the rest of state is open for traffic.

“Moderate to heavy snowfall was recorded from Thanalla to Khundi-Maral stretch, Thantera to Sarthal and Potato farm to Sinthan Top stretch on Bhadarwah-Chamba interstate road, Bhadarwah-Basohli highway and Kishtwar-Sinthan Top road respectively, due to which these roads have been closed for all type of vehicle traffic,” he said.

However, he said Bhadarwah-Doda, Batote-Kishtwar and Thathri-Gandoh roads are open for traffic.

Chattar Gala on Bhadarwah-Basohli highway and Padri Gali on Bhadarwah-Chamba interstate road recorded three feet snow till 11 AM, while Kota Top received two feet, Dhadhkai 1.5 feet, Khanni Top 1.5 feet, Kansar one feet, Shankhoja eight inches, Chinchora seven inches and Bhadarwah town received three Inch snow, the officer said.

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