Srinagar: Protests broke out in Pampore town Friday against the illegal soil extraction in the saffron fields with protestors demanding immediate end to it.
A local news gathering agency said that protestors alleged that some greedy saffron growers, hand in glove with the administration officials, are destroying the saffron industry in Kashmir for their petty gains.
“Soil cutting in saffron fields is going on in Chandhara, Galandar and especially in Putil Bagh on large scale. These saffron fields are turning into wasteland now. Scores of JCBs and tippers could be seen busy in soil cutting and ferrying it to other places without any fear in broad day light,” a protestor Abdul Rashid said.
A contractor pays Rs 1.2-2 lakh per kanal of land to extract soil with the help of JCBs.
Fayaz Ahmad, a tipper owner, said that the extraction of earth from saffron karewas had reduced considerably but post floods there was a “mad rush to plunder as much as possible”.
Another protestor said that 3,785 hectares of saffron land was covered under the National Saffron Mission last year. “The government of India provided compensation and relief to the saffron growers after they suffered damages in recent floods. Even after getting compensation, some greedy saffron growers are destroying this age old industry,” protestors said.
Abdul Majid Wani, president of the All Saffron Growers Development Marketing Cooperative Association, calls the trend disturbing. He apprehends that after the floods, many saffron growing areas might be converted into residential colonies.
Tehsildar Pampore Abdul Rahim said, “I will look into the matter and will ensure no illegal soil cutting takes place on saffron fields.”