Former Finance Minister Altaf Bukhari on Thursday said there seems to be a deep rooted conspiracy to destroy Kashmir's main sources of economy especially horticulture sector.
"This sector sustained state's economy in its most turbulenttimes The dilapidated condition of Srinagar-Jammu National Highway coupled withban on movement of civilian traffic on this only connecting link between theValley and rest of the country is a manifestation of some covert plot to givecollective punishment to people of Kashmir," Bukhari observed.
The former Minister said that blockade of the Highway due tolackadaisical approach of authorities has now become a causal affair.
"Every winter people are supposed to face the miseries dueto the condition of National Highway especially in areas including Banihal,Ramban, Nashri, Batote, Amarchasma and Patnitop. The Highway authorities havefailed in up gradation 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 makethe highway an all weather road connecting Kashmir.
"With the result not only commuters but the fruit,vegetable, livestock laden trucks are halted for long durations which not onlyinflict miseries on people but prove detrimental to the state's economy," heremarked.
The former minister said that on one hand government hadpromoted cold storage chains in Kashmir and on the other it banned the movementon the highway which has hugely impacted transportation of fruit from differentplaces to the storage centers.
Bukhari said in such a scenario, instead of providing ahassle free movement to fruit laden trucks, the government seems adamant thatfarmers and orchardists do not get optimum returns of their yield by not takingmeasures to resolve their grievances.
"Over 70 percentpopulation directly and indirectly earn their livelihood by adopting thepractices in horticulture sector in Kashmir and this industry generates aroundRs 8000 crore income annually. This sector should have been the main focus ofthe government polices but alas the ground reality is totally opposite," hesaid.