Fruit growers protest halting of trucks; to be cleared tonight: Govt

TNN Bureau. Updated: 9/27/2022 12:00:38 PM Front Page

Srinagar: Fruit growers of Kashmir on Monday held a demonstration here against alleged stopping of apple-laden trucks by authorities at various places along the national highway en route to terminal markets of the country.
However, administration has dismissed the allegations, saying the trucks were being halted due to natural causes, and said that all stranded Jammu-bound trucks will be cleared by tonight.
Meanwhile, political parties also criticised the administration for the fruit growers' plight, and requested it to make necessary arrangements to facilitate hassle-free movement of fruit laden trucks from Kashmir to Delhi and other markets of the country.
Members of the Fruit Growers Association held the protest demonstration at Parimpora fruit mandi and on Residency Road at Lal Chowk.
The protestors alleged that fruit laden trucks were being deliberately withheld at various places, which has resulted in the produce going bad before it reaches the markets.
"The horticulture sector is the backbone of Kashmir economy and 35 lakh people are directly or indirectly associated with it. Any adverse impact on this sector will severely hurt the ecconomy of kashmir," one of the protestors said.
Dismissing the the fruit growers' allegations, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir P K Pole said the trucks were being halted due to natural causes, which were beyond anyone's control.
"The claim made by certain fruit growers association on the halting of fruit trucks is half truth and natural reasons are hindering traffic. We have difficulties in the movement of traffic on the highway due to rains and resultant shooting stones which is beyond human control," Pole said in a statement.
He said all stranded Jammu-bound trucks will be cleared by tonight.
The senior officer said 46,000 goods-laden trucks including 29,000 apple trucks have been sent out of Kashmir since September 1, 2022.
Pole said there has been bumper apple crop this year due to abundant rainfall.
"Apple production in Kashmir is 17 metric tonne but due to abundant rainfall, there has been a bumper crop and will cross 21 metric tonne," he said.
The Divisional Commissioner asked the transporters to use alternate Mughal road for at least empty trucks, which will lessen the burden on the national highway.
In Jammu, the former chief minister and Democratic Azad Party (DAP) leader Ghulam Nabi Azad requested clearance of fruit-laden trucks like ambulances from Kashmir to outside markets in the country.
This is harvest time in J&K...I am requesting the government, especially the traffic department to make necessary arrangements to facilitate hassle-free movement of fruit laden trucks from Kashmir to Delhi and other markets for the next one month. These should be given the same priority as is being given to ambulances, otherwise we will have no benefit of the bumper crop this season, he told reporters here.
The DAP leader made the request amid frequent disruptions in the traffic due to shooting of stones over the past week.
Azad said the people connected with the tourism industry, horticulture and handicrafts suffered immensely over the past few years.
This year, the tourism sector registered a good turnout while we have also a bumper horticulture yield... I tried to contact the Lt Governor but he is not here. When he arrives, I will take up this issue (smooth movement of fruit-laden trucks) with him, he said, adding it is imperative to facilitate free movement of trucks to avoid losses to the growers.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti also hit out Jammu and Kashmir administration for allegedly interfering in the seasonal migrant of tribals and their livestock.
"After deliberately holding up fruit laden trucks for days endlessly & causing massive losses, LG admin is now interfering with movement of tribals & their livestock. It seems that the admin is bent upon making every resident & community of J&K suffer miserably," Mehbooba tweeted.
Talking on the matter, the PDP president said there were reports that the administration has kept 50 trucks for movement of the nomadic people and their livestock between Banihal and Jammu.
"They do not want the tribals to move on the national highway. How does one even think of transporting hundreds of thousands of livestock of these Bakerwals in 50 trucks? They have been halted at Banihal where they do not even have pastures for their animals to graze," she added.
Mehbooba said the government should keep some hours every day reserved for the movement of the livestock as was the practice in the past.
The nomadic population of Jammu and Kashmir arrive with their livestock in the valley every year around May in search of greener pastures and return to their homes during September-October period.
Azad also called for restoration of darbar move', a practice under which the government offices including civil secretariat used to function six months each in the twin capitals of Jammu and Srinagar.
The Lt Governor Manoj Sinha had on June 20, last year announced that the Jammu and Kashmir administration has completely transitioned to e-office, thereby ending the practice of the biannual 'darbar move'.
Now both the Jammu and Srinagar secretariats can function normally for 12 months. This will save the government Rs 200 crore per year, which will be used for the welfare of the deprived sections, Sinha had said.
Azad said the darbar move was beneficial for the economy in Jammu. During my chief ministership I also thought of saving the money (by stopping darbar move). The businessmen in Jammu requested me not to think of it as people from Kashmir come and their sales go up by 1,000 times.
The DAP leader also called for adequate compensation to the farmers whose crops were damaged by heavy rains in Kandi and other remote areas of Jammu province.

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