Altaf Bukhari smells ‘deep-rooted’ conspiracy to destroy Kashmir economy
Former Finance Minister Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Thursday said that there seems to be a deep rooted conspiracy to destroy Kashmir's main sources of economy especially its horticulture sector which sustained the state's economy in its most turbulent times.
"The dilapidated condition of Srinagar-Jammu National Highway coupledwith ban on movement of civilian traffic on this only connecting link betweenthe Valley and rest of the country is a manifestation of some covert plot togive collective punishment to the people of Kashmir," Bukhari observed.
The former minister said that the blockade of National Highway due tolackadaisical approach of authorities has now become a causal affair.
"Every winter people are supposed to face the miseries due to thecondition of National Highway especially in areas including Banihal, Ramban,Nashri, Batote, Amarchasma and Patnitop. The National Highway Authorities havefailed in upgradation and widening of this road at these places despite itsupkeep being handed over to it, long back," Bukhari lamented.
He said no concrete or permanent solutions are found to make this highwayan all-weather road connecting Kashmir with rest of the country.
"With the result not only commuters but the fruit, vegetable livestockladen trucks are halted for long durations which not only inflict miseries onpeople but prove detrimental to the state's economy," he remarked further.
The former minister said that on the one side government had promotedcold storage chains in Kashmir and on the other banned the movement on nationalhighway which has hugely impacted transportation of fruit from different placesto the storage centers.
"Fruit being perishable item has a less shelf life. The orchardists aresupposed to pay huge sums to keep their yield intact till it reaches to themarkets across the country for sale during proper seasons," he said and addedthat the refrigerated vans are not being allowed to ply on national highway forits size and primarily because of the decrepit condition of the road.
"Non-availability of such vans has also added to the miseries of thefarmers and orchardists who want to have a saving in time and freight chargesincurred on transportation of their yield to outside markets."
Bukhari said in such a pathetic scenario, instead of providing a hasslefree movement to fruit laden trucks, the government seems adamant that farmersand orchardists do not get optimum returns of their yield by not takingmeasures to resolve their grievances.
He said the fruit industry received a severe dent during the last fewdecades of turmoil and with its apathetic approach the government seemshell-bent to destroy this sector completely.
"Over 70 percent population directly and indirectly earn their livelihoodby adopting the practices in horticulture sector in Kashmir and this industrygenerates around Rs. 8000 crores income annually. This sector should have beenthe main focus of the government polices but alas the ground reality is totallyopposite," he opined.
The former minister observed that keeping in view the immensecontribution of this prestigious sector the government should remove thebottlenecks in the process of modernization of this highly important sector ofstate's economy.