BEERWAHH: What was once a major jam producing unit operated by Jammu and Kashmir Horticultural Processing and Marketing Corporation (JKHPMC) in Beerwah is now in ruins, depicting the failure of successive regimes.
Inside the gates closed with razor wire, the lawns are full of weeds and wild grass, while the buildings that housed the factory appear like a haunted place.
The factory remained under occupation of government forces for a decade, but even after its evacuation the government failed to restore its functioning.
According to local residents, the factory started functioning in 1981-82, but the corporation (JKHPMC) that ran it diminished in stature over the years due to official apathy.
For people privy to its former glory, a visit nowadays is nothing more than a nightmare. It was once the working place for more than 300 skilled workers and many families used to earn their livelihood from the factory.
“I sometimes cry when I enter the premises of the factory. I have spent my youth here with my father working day and night; it was then a place which most of the people adored. But now it is in shambles. The government has not spent a penny for its maintenance which is unfortunate,” Javaid Ahmad Banday, a resident of Beerwah said.
President Auqaf Committee Jamia Masjid Beerwah, Abdul Lateef, said that the factory was established in the early 80’s and was seen as the backbone (in terms of economy) for Beerwah people.
“The multidimensional factory was not only providing job opportunities for at least 300 laborers but was also being used as a fruit mandi; where we used to collect, process and export fruits,” he said.
“In 1990, when the militancy was on its peak, the paramilitary forces came here and occupied both of its buildings with its lawns spreading on 69 kanals of land. And then in almost 1991-92, they handed the premised over to the army (RR),” he added.
Javaid added that even after 2002, when the factory was evacuated by the army, the authorities left it unattended, despite apprehensions of encroachment by farmers having land nearby.
“The people of Beerwah strongly believe that if government wants to provide earning hand to youths and provide them the opportunity, and want to boost agriculture and allied sectors like providing of hybrid walnut trees, apple trees, seeds, equipment then they should as soon as possible transfer the land to SKUAST and procure more than 300 kanals of land which is available nearby and start work on the betterment of common masses,” Javaid added.
MD JKHPMC Dr. Abdul Kabir Dar told Kashmir Reader that it was a world-bank aided project which started functioning in late 70s in Kashmir with one branch at Beerwah.
“The different assets of the project either devastated in fire or were occupied by the government forces in nineties,” Kabir said.
He said that the assets could not be made functional again because of the huge liability of employees and pensioners. “It is because of this several factories are sick from the very beginning and could not become profitable since,” Kabir said, adding that despite occupying the buildings for decades, the armed forces, “never paid a single penny”.
“We have taken up the issue with Chief Minister and army as well and have sent a proposal to government, and requested them to pay the dues for the employees and for the repair of the projects.”
Kabir added that they are also intending to “hire some consultants from the global level to explore other resources”, and have requested government for “a special dispensation”.
“If we succeeded in this then it is possible that we will be in a position to revive these projects,” he said.