Shopian: Unregistered, unchecked truck unions have given rise to arbitrarily fixed transportation charges and shortage of vehicles in the South Kashmir’s district Shopian.
Fruit growers and traders in Shopian allege that the transport authorities are intentionally paving the way for transporters to loot poor growers by not registering truck unions that then levy self-declared fare charges on people in need of a truck. “Not only have they declared rates by themselves but they hide the vehicles and tell us there are no vehicles, and if you have urgency, then they will bring trucks from unions at higher rates,” said Bilal Ahmad Bhat, an apple grower from Imamsahib belt of Shopian. He added that these union owners have arrangements with the truckers for raising the fare charges.
Suhail Ahmad Hurrah, another resident, told Kashmir Reader that many local truckers warn the outside truck owner that the situation is South Kashmir, particularly Shopian, is not good, so trucks should avoid going there. This, according to him, has given rise to the fare charges. “When less number of people come here, there are lesser markets for our fruit, which not only has raised the transportation charges but also caused a massive decline in rates as well,” he said.
Fruit Growers and Zamindar Association president Mushtaq Ahmad Malik warns the district administration to “bring law violators under justice or face the consequences”. “We will hit the streets if our demands were not met. We already are facing huge losses due to low market rates. Why is there no fixed transportation charge? Why don’t they bring vehicles from other states?” asks Malik, while demanding fixed fares to different markets and arrival of more trucks to South Kashmir.
A group of traders from Arhama Mandi told Kashmir Reader that due to the negligible number of trucks, their fruit is about to spoil. The authorities are unmoved by the plight of people who are wholly and solely dependent on the apple produce, they said. “We don’t demand any big thing, but fixed truck fares and arrival of more trucks,” said Shabir Ahmad, a trader.
It is worth mention here that 95 percent of Shopian’s population is directly dependent on fruit growing.
Assistant Regional Transport Officer Samrinder Singh Jamwal told Kashmir Reader that he will call a meeting in this regard and will seek a report of the unions working in district. “If people find anyone charging higher rates, they should bring the case to my notice and needful action will be done,” he said.