Shopian: Though Shopian’s new fruit and vegetables mandi at Aglar village, along the Rambiara rivulet, has started operations, there are as yet no proper arrangements and many local traders have not been given space.
Local traders told Kashmir Reader that more than 600 traders operated at the old mandi but many of them haven’t been given space in the new one. They also said that the new mandi has not been fully constructed even after half a decade since its foundation stone was laid.
Muhammad Amin Pir, former mandi president, told Kashmir Reader that starting operations at the new mandi was a decision taken in haste. “First, there isn’t enough space for all the traders. Two, it is still under construction. Three, the premises of the Mandi are filled with huge stones which hamper the movement of vehicles that come for loading and unloading,” Pir said.
The PDP-BJP government had laid the foundation of the new mandi at Aglar village. Then chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on October 28, 2015, had come for the ceremony. The new mandi is spread over 200 kanals of land. This project was initiated at an estimated cost of Rs 37.70 crore.
Tariq Ahmad, a local trader, said that he has been visiting offices of various government officials and mandi office-bearers for obtaining space in the mandi.
“They are charging Rs 80,000 as registration fees and Rs 4,000 per year for development and welfare. God knows where that money has gone as nothing has been done on the ground,” he said.
When contacted, Mandi president Muhammad Ashraf Wani said that the government has issued licences to 525 persons, even though many of them have not been seen at the mandi for a decade.
“There are only 142 sheds and if we accommodate two traders in one shed, we can only accommodate 284. Where would the rest 241 traders go?” Ashraf said. He blamed the government for not providing enough accommodation and shops for the traders.
Traders said that despite Mandi being the trading hub for most of the apples grown in south Kashmir, it has been ignored by the government. “Almost 95 percent of the population of this district (Shopian) is primarily dependent on fruit growing, but despite that nothing is being done,” said Ishtiaq Ahmad, a local.
Deputy Commissioner Shopian Choudhary Muhammad Yasin didn’t respond to calls and text messages from this reporter for his comments.