Lack of funds hinders Pulwama Fruit Mandi expansion plans

Lack of funds hinders Pulwama Fruit Mandi expansion plans
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PULWAMA: Expansion plans for the Fruit Mandi in Pulwama district of South Kashmir have been in limbo for several years now as the land acquired for the same is yet to be fully compensated for by the government
The delay in the expansion is costing the traders as well as growers of the district substantially as potential buyers have been overlooking the facility because of its space constraints.
Located in Priczoo area of Pulwama district, the market caters to hundreds of fruit-growing villages in the district.
As per sources at the Horticulture Department, the available space had been adequate until some years ago. But a substantial increase in land under apple cultivation as well as total produce had put an extra burden on the Mandi, leaving its space insufficient.
“In 2014, the total land under fruit cultivation went from 12,389 hectares to 17,072 ha in 2018. As expected, fruit production expanded from 85,095 metric tonnes to 1,49,678 MTs in the same time frame,” an official at the department told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the ever increasing burden on the Mandi forced the department to think of an expansion plan some three years back. Subsequently, the official said, around 50 Kanals of land were acquired in the Mandi vicinity for the proposed expansion.
“The government, however, has failed to compensate the land owners, and we in turn have not been able to take possession of the land,” the official said.
Traders and growers told Kashmir Reader that they have been facing difficulties in conducting their business at the Mandi in recent years.
“Earlier, trucks used to be parked inside the Mandi, but now the increased produce is forcing us to have the vehicles parked outside. This practice is causing inconvenience to the general public as well here in Pulwama, with frequent traffic jams,” the traders Kashmir Reader talked to said.
They said that many traders from outside the state have been avoiding visiting the Mandi for obvious reasons.
“This is putting a substantial dent in our sales,” the traders and growers added.
They said that the authorities have been reminded time and again of the difficulties they face but nothing has been done in this regard.
Pulwama Deputy Commissioner (DC) G M Dar acknowledged that there has been a delay in awarding compensation to the land owners.
“It was a total of Rs 10 crore which was to be given to the land owners as compensation. We have thus far distributed only six crores and need four more crores to be able to take possession of the land,” Dar said.
He added that the district administration was regularly pursuing the case and the money will be released soon enough, hopefully.