The Kashmir economy is heavily dependent on the horticulture sector, especially the apple industry.
SRINAGAR: Hundreds of fruit growers in Kashmir valley are angry with the J&K administration for halting the truck loads of apples on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in the name of “regulating traffic”. The Kashmir Fruit Growers’ Association has dubbed it as a “conspiracy” by some sections of bureaucracy and police so that they are forced to incur heavy losses.
“In most of the halted trucks on Srinagar-Jammu highway, rotted apples have reached the mandis of the country. It should be probed who ordered that the trucks should be stopped for days without any proper reason,” said Ali Muhammad Bhat from Sopore whose dozens of apple-laden trucks have rotted as his trucks, along with thousands of truck-loads of apples, were forced to park on the Srinagar-Jammu highway for over a week by the traffic authorities.
After protests by fruit growers and the political class of Jammu and Kashmir, the J&K administration swung into action and has ordered attachment of SSP traffic in-charge, Ramban sector of Srinagar-Jammu highway, and allowed over 10,000 trucks laden with Kashmiri apples to pass the Srinagar-Jammu highway only in two consecutive nights.
The action of the J&K administration has proved the perception in the minds of fruit growers of Kashmir that it has been a conspiracy to inflict losses on them as during the current season, they are having a bumper crop of apples. From Dr Farooq Abdullah to Ghulam Nabi Azad to Mehbooba Mufti, every politician has demanded a probe and have appealed to the J&K administration to allow the fruit-laden trucks to move out of Kashmir on priority.
Mehbooba Mufti, in a series of tweets, has expressed anger against the government for trying to inflict heavy losses to Kashmiri farmers. She in the tweet said, “After deliberately holding up fruit laden trucks for days endlessly and causing massive losses, the L-G administration is now interfering with the movement of tribals and their livestock. It seems that the administration is bent on making every resident and community of J&K suffer miserably”.
It is in place to mention that right from the start of September 2022, traffic authorities on Srinagar-Jammu highway started regulating the movement of apple laden trucks from Srinagar to Jammu to their onward destinations. Most of the trucks were stopped at Qazigund in Kashmir near the highway and they were forced to park the vehicles for days. As the number of trucks only piled up, according to Kashmir Fruit Growers Association 10 to 13 thousand trucks were stuck on Srinagar-Jammu highway for weeks, rotting the fruits in the stranded vehicles.
Kashmir Fruit Growers Association further said that apple market has crashed in different mandis of the country due to the bumper crop and also due to the import of apple from different countries to the mandis of the country. Apple farmers in Kashmir valley held several protests appealing J&K administration to lift the curbs on the movement of apple laden trucks on Srinagar-Jammu highway and now the authorities have started looking for the reasons why thousands of trucks were forced to wait for days in the name of regulating traffic.
The Kashmir economy is heavily dependent on the horticulture sector especially the apple industry as annually it brings Rs 10,000-12,000 crores to the thousands of families in Kashmir valley who are cultivating apples.