Listen to apple growers

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Despite the assurances made by the Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir the other day regarding the smooth ferrying of apple-laden trucks on Srinagar-Jammu highway, apple growers of Valley are protesting all over alleging that there has been no improvement in the situation on the ground as these trucks are made to halt for days thus making the traders to suffer economically. The fruit growers have been protesting at Sopore Fruit Mandi and at the Mandis of Shopian and Pampore. It may be recalled that following the allegations that fruit-laden trucks were being halted on the highway citing different excuses, the Chief Secretary held a review meeting wherein he directed the concerned authorities to ensure the movement of such trucks on priority basis. However, if the real stake holders – the fruit growers – are to be believed, nothing has changed on the ground and the fruit laden trucks remain stranded on different patches of the Highway.

Even on Monday, fruit growers staged a protest at Parimpora Fruit Mandi on the outskirts of Srinagar demanding smooth movement of truckloads on the highway. They alleged that frequent disruptions for days altogether has led to the losses worth crores of rupees to the orchardists. It may be mentioned here that the fruit growers have to ferry their product to the Mandis of Delhi and other parts of the country. The halting of trucks on the highway doesn’t only delay the process but given the shelf life of the fruit, apples rot on the way thus incurring huge loses to the growers. The growers allege that the fruit stock worth crores of rupees has been damaged over the past few days.

All the political parties too have voiced their concern about the challenges faced by fruit industry and have been appealing to the UT administration from past several weeks to ensure smooth ferrying of fruit from Srinagar to other states of the country. Though the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir on Monday announced that all halted trucks would be allowed to move on the highway, question is that why is it taking so long to ensure the smooth movement of fruit laden trucks.

Horticulture is the backbone of Kashmir’s economy and the Lt Governor administration has been making tall claims to boost this industry and do everything that helps this industry to grow and prosper. Making claims is one thing and delivering on the ground is the other thing. From past several weeks, the fruit growers have been voicing concern about smooth ferrying of the apple. Though the government has been making announcements ensuring smooth ferrying, reports from the ground suggest otherwise. It is therefore necessary that while focusing on cultivation of hybrid fruits to increase the yield, most important aspect is to ensure that the fruit from Valley reaches its destination in other parts of the country well in time. As well said by former chief minister, G N Azad while launching his party in Jammu today, the fruit-laden trucks need to be treated by the traffic authorities at par with ambulances and ensure their smooth ferrying. Ambulances save a few lives, apples give livelihood to millions of people.

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