Shopian: After massive damage to apple trees and fruit due to early snowfall on the 23rd of this month, the demand for government compensation is growing among apple growers here in south Kashmir.
Orchardists said that even after huge losses, both in trees and fruit, the government was acting as mute spectator to the miseries of fruit growers in south Kashmir’s Shopian and Kulgam districts where most of the damage has taken place.
According to growers, over 40 per cent of apple was yet to be plucked when it snowed in the region. Orchardists said that in 2019, only apple trees were damaged due to snow but this year snow caused damages to both fruit and trees as it snowed a fortnight earlier than in 2019.
“Previously in 2019, the government gave relief to some of the growers though the amount was nothing compared to the damage. We demand compensation instead of relief for our losses,” said Javid Ahmad, an orchardist from Shalatoo area of Shopian.
According to official data, more than 90 per cent of Shopian district’s population is directly dependent on horticulture sector while a large number of population in districts Kulgam and Pulwama is directly or indirectly dependent on horticulture sector, particularly apple.
District Shopian this year had witnessed a bumper apple crop and most of the fruit was superior in quality than in the past many years.
Abdul Hameed Lone, whose orchards suffered much damage in the snowfall, told Kashmir Reader that he wanted speedy sanction of compensation from the government. “For the last many years we are continuously witnessing losses, either due to early snowfall or breakout of diseases. Only a handsome compensation can end our woes,” he said.
Director General of Horticulture in Kashmir, Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, told Kashmir Reader that his office has given directions to deputy commissioners to provide relief to the fruit growers.
“We are assessing the losses and we have asked revenue and horticulture officials to visit all the areas and make a detailed report of the losses,” he said.
Bhat said that relief will be provided as per the state disaster relief fund (SDRF) guidelines. “There is different amount of damage in different areas. Some areas have suffered 20 per cent damage, others 30 or 40 per cent damage,” he said, adding that only reports from field officials will tell the exact figures.