Govt yet to come up with any scheme to help the dozens who sustain debilitating injuries every year
Shopian: With the apple harvested, pruning of trees is being carried out throughout Kashmir and once again people carrying out this work, particularly labourers, are getting injured, some of them even maimed for life. And yet there is no relief or rehabilitation policy for them from the government in their hour of need.
Dozens of such labourers and orchardists every year get grievously injured or maimed after falling from fruit trees. These accidents leave many families without any source of income, changing for the worse the lives of their entire families, including children.
Abid Ahmad, 23, who lives in Imamsahib area of Shopian district is bedridden since 2016 after sustaining a grievous spine injury when he fell from an apple tree while carrying out pruning.
His brother Zahid Ahmad said that Abid is only able to go to the washroom, with use of a walker instrument, and eat food by himself. “He was studying a diploma in Operation Theatre Technician but left his education midway due to the injury. He was in bed for more than two years, not able to move, but with the help of treatment and the walker instrument, now he moves from bed to the washroom and a few meters out to the courtyard,” Zahid said.
Farooq Ahmad, 40, father of two children who lives at Hari Pora village of Shopian, is admitted at Bone and Joints Hospital in Barzulla Srinagar. Ahmad recently fell from an apple tree while doing pruning and he also sustained a spinal injury (in the cervical region).
His relative, Arshid Ahmad, told Kashmir Reader that Farooq is the lone bread earner of the four-member family, with his two children aged 5 and 7 years. “Doctors told us it will take him at least six months to recover. They are suggesting surgery but are yet to take a final call on that,” Arshid said, adding that the government should rehabilitate such victims.
Orchardists say that if the government is spending crores of rupees on the horticulture sector, then why can’t it offer any compensation or assistance scheme for such accidents. “Spending crores on this sector is good but when the orchardists and labourers are not surviving, then for whom they want to develop this sector?” Arshid said, urging the government to come up with an insurance and rehabilitation scheme.
Dr Muhammad Ismail, Medical Superintendent of district hospital Shopian, told Kashmir Reader that this season the hospital has received many such cases. “We referred those who had fractures and those who were unconscious to Srinagar hospitals, while minor injuries were handled in our hospital,” he said.
Due to the lack of advanced facilities and trauma centres in district headquarters, families of these accident victims are forced to spend a heavy amount on treatment and transport to Srinagar hospitals.
Uzair Fayaz, whose father recently fell from a tree, said that in the district hospital, the condition of such patients gets even worse. “The joints doctor at Shopian hospital told us that my father has no fracture, but when we carried out a separate x-ray at Srinagar, he was found to have two fractures, one in the back and another in the left rib,” Uzair said, and suggested that such cases should be referred to speciality hospitals.
For hundreds of labourers who do manual jobs throughout the year, pruning is their main source of income in November and December, as most of the other available work comes to a halt due to the cold weather conditions.
Muhammad Irfan, an orchardist, said that the horticulture sector is entirely dependent on labourers. “Their welfare is of prime importance. If not the government, then people should come up with some way to rehabilitate such victims and their families,” he said.
Director of Horticulture in Kashmir, Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, couldn’t be reached for his comments despite repeated attempts.