December 2019 News

Over 1200 Fruit Trucks Stranded On Highway For 12 Days

19 December 2019
Rising Kashmir

Srinagar: The Valley fruit growers, who are still counting the losses of recent untimely snowfall, fear more losses as over 1200 fruit-laden trucks are stranded on the Srinagar-Jammu highway for the past 12 days. Chairman Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers cum Dealers Union, Bashir Ahmad Basheer said hundreds of apple and other fruit-laden trucks were stranded on the highway since December 8, 2019, spoiling the perishable fruit loaded in trucks. He said the continuous stoppage of fruit trucks at various spots on Srinagar-Jammu highway for weeks together has neutralized horticulture industry and affected lakhs of people associated with the trade. 'It has directly affected the vital economical source of lakhs of people from the Valley. The fruits in these trucks will only spoil if they continue to remain stranded on the highway,' Basheer said. He said even if any fruit was spared, the extra carriage due to the halt of various days would also bring losses to the sector. The grower's union said around 700 fruit laden trucks leave from Kashmir every day, which have all got stuck on the highway. 'The trucks should reach mandis on time and in intervals for price regulation. Now when the trucks are allowed to move, hundreds of these trucks will reach outside mandis in one go and fruit will be in abundance which will not be accepted by the dealers there. We will have to accept throw-away prices to offload the stranded crop,' he said. The fruit grower union said it had taken up the issue with the concerned authorities including IGP Traffic, Secretary Horticulture J&K and other authorities 'but to no avail'. 'However, the only reason they give is that the roads are slippery and landslides are occurring but they allow other heavy vehicles including Army convoys,' it said. Basheer said the fruit growers had already suffered heavy losses due to the untimely snowfall on November 3, 2019. The government has to facilitate free movement of the fruit-laden trucks or the horticulture industry would have unimaginable losses which cannot be even compensated. 'The fruit which would not reach their destination on time will not also fetch any returns. This situation has put growers into a mental agony,' he said. One of the fruit growers at Pulwama, Waseem Ahmad Rather said most of the apple fruit from Kashmir cannot survive 10 days in the boxes. 'The apple crop from Pulwama has little tolerance and can remain in good condition only for a few days if they are not offloaded. The crops from other districts too can remain in the boxes for maximum of 10 to 12 days. The crops will rot if they remain stranded for more time,' he said. Another fruit grower, Rayees Ahmad Rather from Pulwama said average growers cannot afford to keep their crops in the cold storages to save it when the highway remains blocked. 'We don't have government cold stores so that we can avoid such situation. Only elite growers store their crop at privately-owned controlled atmosphere stores,' he said. The growers have appealed the Lt Governor to look into the vital issue personally and direct all concerned authorities including traffic personnel as well to allow hassle-free movement of fruit-laden trucks in Srinagar. Commissioner Secretary Horticulture, Manzoor Ahmad Lone said they had taken up the matter with the IG Traffic. He said the passenger service was a priority at present for the administration. 'The Ramban-Banihal patch on Srinagar-Jammu highway is in pathetic condition. The authorities want to regulate passenger traffic first,' Lone said. He said the Valley dispatched around 16,64,000 metric tons till last season. 'This year, they have already dispatched 15,85,000 metric tons so far and major chunk of fruits are transported from the month of October to January,' Lone said.