Kashmir’s Fruit Mandis shut for second straight day

Growers demand smooth passage to trucks loaded with fruit from Valley

Kashmir fruit growers and dealers protest in Srinagar
Kashmir fruit growers and dealers protest on September 14, 2022

SRINAGAR — As a mark of protest to press for smooth passage to fruit-laden trucks on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, Fruit Mandis across Kashmir remained shut for the second consecutive day.

Several fruit growers and buyers told the news agency KNO that they continue to face losses due to unnecessarily blocking of the highway at Qazigund. “Despite government directions, authorities have failed to ensure the hassle-free movement of apple-laden trucks on the national highway,” they alleged.

“Fruit-laden trucks are being halted at Qazigund for around a week after that they get a turn to move towards Jammu despite clear directives to ensure the hassle-free movement of fruit-laden trucks,” Mudasir Ahmed, a fruit buyer said.

He said it seems that the authorities are in no mood to put an end to the miseries being faced by the fruit industry.

“It was earlier taking seven days to reach fruit trucks from Sopore Fruit Mandi to Bangladesh but now it’s taking at least 12-15 days and the same is happening with others and upon reaching the destiny, the items we supply get spoiled and are of no use,” said Fazzul Rehman, a foreigner who is dealing with fruit trade at Fruit Mandi Sopore for decades. He added that they are now on the verge to wind up the business as they are facing huge losses.

President, Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers-cum-Dealers Union (KVFGCDU), Bashir Ahmad told KNO that they were hopeful that the government will take their issue seriously.

He said they expect the government to implement the directions for smooth passage to trucks. “We want our produce to reach its destination outside the Valley in time,” he said.

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Bashir said that Mughal road, which the government has kept as an alternative for the trucks, is not feasible as the condition of the road is not good.

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Amid protests against the ‘unnecessary’ halt of fruit-laden trucks along the Srinagar-Jammu highway, the fruit growers on Monday met the Transport Secretary and Inspector General of Police (IGP) Traffic, seeking immediate redressal of their grievances.

The delegation of fruit growers under the banner of Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers-cum-Dealers Union (KVFGDU) met the officials today and apprised them about their sufferings and losses due to the halt of fruit-laden trucks along the highway.

The government has assured them that all the stranded fruit-laden trucks on the way to Jammu will be cleared tonight and more proactive steps will be taken to end the miseries of fruit growers and dealers.

President of KVFGDU, Bashir Ahmad told the news agency KNO that during the meeting with IGP Traffic and Transport Secretary, they were assured that all fruit-laden trucks halted in Qazigund will be cleared tonight and priority will be given to fruit-laden trucks.

He said that since Sunday, the movement of apple-laden trucks is continuously being allowed to move towards Jammu and they are hopeful that the government will prioritize the movement of apple-laden trucks.

He, on behalf of all fruit associations, thanked government officials who were part of the meeting, especially IGP Traffic for listening to their issues and assuring that additional steps will be taken to increase the flow of apple trucks.

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Meanwhile, the top officials told KNO that since September 1, 45923 trucks (including 17631 apple trucks) have moved from Srinagar to Jammu via tunnel as per the details provided by NHAI. Trucks have been allowed to ply from Srinagar to Jammu on the last three consecutive days: September 24, 25 and 26.

On September 24, only 825 trucks (including 671 apple trucks) were allowed to ply after shooting stones started at Mehar and the traffic had to be suspended. On September 25, 4554 trucks (including 3995 apple trucks) were released, out of which 1500 trucks got stranded at Mehar on account of shooting stones and have passed down to Jammu today.

On September 26, trucks have again been released from Srinagar to Jammu and the backlog of all the approx 2500 trucks at Qazigund will get cleared today itself, as per the officials.

Further, apple trucks are given priority for release in traffic at Qazigund as shown by the large majority of apple trucks in the trucks released each day. “Hence in no case does any apple truck remain stranded at Qazigund for more than two days contrary to the false claims and propaganda that is being spread by vested interests. Traffic Police, J&K will initiate strict action against individuals who are spreading false and unverified information regarding the movement of apple trucks,” they added further.

Moreover, the Traffic Police has taken a number of additional steps to increase the flow of apple trucks, they said.

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