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Masoodi seeks inclusive relief policy for Kashmir horticulture sector 

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Asks GOI to curb fruit imports to protect local producers

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference on Saturday sought a comprehensive relief policy for the horticulture sector in Jammu and Kashmir.

In a statement released from party headquarters Nawa-e-Subha, Member Parliament Hasnain Masoodi said that the illegal apple imports has put our fruit industry in a very precarious situation. 

Seeking curbs on the import of apples, Masoodi said that if the government can ban the import of food grains to ensure price stability for food grains in the country why cannot it take similar punitive measures to help the local horticulture industry from piling up losses. “If a ban can be imposed on food grain imports keeping in view the domestic supply concerns, why can’t it be done with regards to horticulture. Despite a bumper crop this year, the apple growers in Kashmir are unhappy with the low rates they are being offered by the buyers (traders) right now. The buyers say the rates are low due to tough competition in the markets outside, which are now being flooded by imported apples, and some other countries also,” he said.

He also called for immediate measures to allow the smooth passage of fruit-laden trucks from different parts of Kashmir to other parts of the country. “Govt should direct police and traffic authorities to provide round-the-clock and hassle-free passage to the fruit-laden trucks on the interior roads and highways on a priority basis and avoid their unwarranted stoppages. Thousands of trucks, mostly from Sopore, Shopian, and other parts of the valley move towards Qazigund in south Kashmir before crossing the Banihal tunnel every day, while only a few hundred are allowed to pass the tunnel,” he said adding that Mughal Road should be used for transporting fruits on days when heavy motor vehicles are allowed to ply from Jammu to Srinagar.

“Govt could well consider allowing only fruit trucks to move on Srinagar-Jammu highway on certain days in a week. It could help evade congestion and ensure smooth and prompt movement of trucks to other parts of the country,” he said.

Seeking exemption from various taxes on the horticulture produce and allied activities, Masoodi asked the government to waive the GST on fruit packaging and toll taxes. The measure, he stated, would go a long way in reviving the horticulture sector of Kashmir.

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