Bijbehara Fruit Terminal: Tall claims and a few mounds of earth

Bijbehara Fruit Terminal: Tall claims and a few mounds of earth

By ZIA-UL-HAQ
Anantnag: When the foundation stone of the proposed fruit and vegetable market in Jablipora area of Bijbehara was laid in 2013, local fruit growers and traders had turned jubilant in hopes of a booming business.
However, four years later, the work on the project has not moved beyond earth filling.
“When the foundation stone of the project was laid, the politicians had claimed that it will be completed within a year or two. But now it is more than four years and the project seems to be nowhere near completion,” a group of fruit traders of the area told Kashmir Reader.
According to officials, the fruit terminal, situated half a kilometre from National Highway, is to be built on modern lines over 440 kanals of land at an estimated cost to Rs 50 crore. It will have at least 700 shops, auction platforms, market yard, cold storage, bank branch, weighing bridge, administrative block, post office, cable network and other facilities.
A local fruit grower who has applied for the space in a market said that the lack of political will was the only reason for the delay in completion of the project.
“The politicians have been selling the project as their biggest achievement but the reality is that only ten percent of the work, that is earth filling, has been done so far. If the work on the project goes on at the same pace its completion will take not less than a decade,” Abdul Rashid, a fruit grower, said.
The traders are also annoyed that the work has been slow despite authorities receiving rupees one lakh each from those who have applied for a space in the market.
“Only few days after the laying of foundation stone, the officials invited applications from the fruit growers and traders. At least twelve hundred fruit growers applied for the space. All of them were asked to deposit one lakh three thousand (103000) rupees which amounts to more than 12 crores. Had the authorities been serious they would have utilised the amount on the construction of the market,” a trader complained.
The authorities, however, cited paucity of funds and mass uprising of 2016 as reasons for delay in the completion of the project.
“The situation in last five months was not favorable to start work on the project. Besides, there are no funds available for the same. It is a 50 crore project but so far only five to six crore have been released for the purpose. But now the money is coming under prime ministers package after which work on the project will be speeded up,” Director, Marketing and Planning Wing of Horticulture department, Hafiz-u-llah Shah told Kashmir Reader.

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