Sopore Fruit Mandi in shambles
Market Lacks Even Minimum Basic Facilities
Srinagar, June 11: In a glaring instance of official apathy towards the vital horticulture sector, the Valley’s largest fruit market, located on outskirts of Sopore town, is in a pathetic condition for over the past two decades.
Not to talk of any modern trading facilities there, the market, sustaining livelihood of more than two million and generating revenue of Rs 1200 crore annually, even lacks basic facilities. An interaction with the officials and traders reveals the pathetic tale of indifference of the successive regimes towards the economic hub of the Valley.
Officials wishing anonymity said although the cost of revised project for upgradation of the facilities in the fruit market was pegged at Rs 33.89 crore, but only Rs 13.41 crore have been utilized so far.
“Even the pre-revised amount earmarked for the project has not been spent till date,” the official said, adding that original cost of the project was estimated at Rs 18.65 crore.
The traders told Greater Kashmir that they are facing plethora of problems due to dearth of proper infrastructure at the market and the condition has remained same since its establishment in 1988.
“At present we have just 12 auction platforms and only 240 growers can auction the fruit on these sites, while the number of growers is more than 900. For them there is minimum requirement of 35 sites,” Fayaz Ahmad Malik president of Fruit Growers Association Sopore said.
He said the government has made it clear that only 3-4 new auction platforms will be constructed as per the plan rather than fulfilling the actual requirement. This is not the end of the problems here: traders are unable to construct shop-cum-offices due to “delay in allotment and procedural hassles”.
“In 1999, Government asked us to deposit money in installments for 600 shops and allotment was not done for more than 10 years. It was due to our continuous efforts that the allotment was made in 2009, but now we are being asked to pay entire amount before entering into lease deed with the government for constructing shops,” Malik said, adding “even we are being asked to pay Rs 4000 as license fee while but in Azadpur Mandi Delhi, it is Rs 100 only.”
Even the road leading to the market, where traders from different states and countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan come to purchase fruit, is full of potholes. Although the execution of road was taken up under Centre’s flagship road scheme - Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) - few years back at the cost of Rs 3.50 crore, but its condition has again worsened.
“After two decades, the road was repaired, but today potholes are visible on entire stretch from Sopore College to the market,” said Nazir Ahmed a grower. “The pathetic condition of road tells the story of step-motherly attitude of authorities towards this market. If government would have been really sincere in boosting horticulture sector, they should have constructed a four-lane road here,” he said.
“Thousands of buyers and transporters from outside the state come here to purchase and ferry apple in trucks. But the miserable condition of the road gives wrong impression to them about the market,” a fruit grower said.
The internal macdamisation in fruit market is also incomplete. “Around 50 percent of macdamisation has been completed so far. First Jammu & Kashmir Project Construction Corporation was undertaking the work and now we are on it. We have made projection of Rs 65 lakh for completing the leftover work this year,” said Farooq Ahmad, Assistant Executive Engineer of Horticulture (Planning & Marketing) Department. He added that completion of the work is subject to the release of funds.
The market also lacks separate water supply scheme, despite witnessing rush of more than 20000-30000 people each day during the peak season.
“Instead of devising separate scheme, water is being supplied through plastic tanks. We have approached authorities umpteenth times to provide separate water supply scheme, but our pleas have fallen on deaf ears,” the growers said.
Absence of cold storage facility in the fruit market is also one of the major problems for growers here.
“We have no alternative than to sell our fruit instantly as we don’t have storage facility here,” they said, adding that growers of Valley store fruit in cold stores of Delhi or other fruit markets due to dearth of same facility here.
When contacted, Minister of State for Horticulture Javaid Ahmad Dar said that government is committed to upgrade infrastructure at Sopore fruit market.
“It was due to efforts of government, shop sites were allotted to the growers,” he said, adding that only 250 traders have entered into lease deed agreement over shops,” he said.
“We are trying our best to get separate water supply scheme approved,” he added.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 11 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 11 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 12 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST
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