JK Government gives damn to flagship apple industry
Fails To Revive HPMC Infrastructure
Srinagar, June 6: While Jammu & Kashmir Government is spending crores of rupees on airfare and fuel charges of Ministers, the proposal for revival of infrastructural facilities for apple industry - mainstay of Valley’s economy- is gathering dust in the corridors of power here for past several years. Although more than 2.5 million people in the Valley earn their livelihood from horticulture sector, the largest employer in the Valley, the State Government has virtually expressed its inability to revive the facilities for fruit industry.
Informed sources told Greater Kashmir that Jammu and Kashmir Horticulture Produce Marketing Corporation (HPMC), created in 1978 for providing infrastructure for grading, packing and processing of apple and hulling and drying of walnuts, has failed to fulfill its primary objective.
Before ’90s, sources said, HPMC had undertaken construction of numerous infrastructural facilities i.e apple grading and packing houses, cold storages, walnut hulling and drying centres and a walnut export centre for facilitating the growers, but most of these works remained incomplete due to shortage of funds.
“Initially, work on HPMC projects was hit by shortage of funds. While few projects were completed but most of them remained unfinished till date,” sources said, adding, “Many of the centers suffered damage due to disturbances and a few of them were also occupied by security forces.”
According to official documents, the proposal for restoration/ completion of 36 projects would need at least around Rs 23 crores. The documents reveal that Rs 10 crores were needed for restoration of apple grading and packing centres, Rs 9 crore for cold stores, Rs 3.15 crores for walnut hulling & drying centres and Rs 80 lakhs for construction of walnut export centre.
Officials of HPMC told Greater Kashmir that State Government has turned blind eye towards the proposals submitted by them from time to time.
“Not only fruit growers are suffering due to want of infrastructure, but the Corporation has virtually become defunct due to failure of Government to undertake restoration work,” they said, adding that these infrastructural facilities would have also earned revenue for the Corporation.
The official documents claim that restoration of damaged and incomplete projects couldn’t be taken up due to financial constraints.
“The requisitioned amount couldn’t be provided to the Corporation by the Government due to their limitations and as such these facilities couldn’t be restored,” a document reads.
Fruit growers of the Valley have expressed anguish towards unfair attitude of the Government towards the infrastructure of HPMC.
“The upgrade of infrastructure should have been on the top agenda of the Government as fruit industry is the largest employer in the State, but it has failed even to revive the infrastructure which we had before ’90s,” Irfan Hafiz Lone, president of United Fruit Growers Association, said.
“During past two decades fruit industry has suffered most due to apathetic attitude of the State Government and particularly due to the indifference of the officials at the helm of affairs in different departments of horticulture sector,” he added.
Repeated attempts to contact State Horticulture Minister Sham Lal Sharma and his junior, Javed Ahmad Dar, proved futile as the former was ‘busy’ and the latter’s mobile was switched off.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 6 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 6 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 7 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST
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