Shopian: The frequent rise in transportation charges of fruit boxes has left traders and fruit growers in south Kashmir worried. The reason for the hike in charges is shortage of trucks.
Traders at a fruit mandi in Pulwama said that last week, the fare charge for a 17Kg apple box was Rs 50 to 55, which suddenly rose to Rs 110 to 120, for transportation to a Delhi-based fruit mandi. The traders accused the Governor-led administration of ignoring people who are solely dependent on the horticulture sector.
Similarly, traders in Shopian complained of government apathy. They said that shortage of transportation trucks had led to the increased fare charges, which they described as “loot”.
“It is the beginning of apple season and fare charges have already doubled. If the situation remains the same, then we fear the charges will go up to Rs 200 per box,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, a trader at Shopian fruit mandi.
A group of traders including Arhama fruit mandi’s president Muhammed Amin Pir told Kashmir Reader, “If the Governor’s office does not look into our miseries, we will hit the streets.”
Muhammad Amin Pir said that 95 percent of the population in Shopian is directly dependent on horticulture sector for livelihood. “Where are those who claim there is development in horticulture sector? A poor orchardist is being looted and the government officials are enjoying our miseries,” he said, while demanding arrival of more trucks from other states of India.
The situation is the same in Kulgam, where orchardists claim that despite spending hundreds of rupees to prepare a single box of apples, a grower is getting nothing for it. “To produce quality fruit, we spent thousands of rupees on our orchards, but the doubled fares are breaking our back. We are apprehensive of losses,” said Javid Iqbal Mir, a fruit trader from Kulgam.
Traders complained that market rates for Kashmiri apple are already low, and the shortage of trucks is adding to their woes. “We are already under burden of bank loans and costly pesticides and fertilisers. We request the government to solve our problems,” a trader in Kulgam said.
Additional Transport Commissioner Aijaz Abdullah Saraf told Kashmir Reader that he will look into the matter. “I will contact the assistant regional transport officers in south Kashmir and will seek a report from them about availability of trucks in the region. Actually, we recently held a meeting with office-bearers of traders’ associations and other stakeholders, but they did not raise the issue of shortage of trucks,” Saraf said.