The J&K government has allowed transportation of fresh fruit including cherry through the Mughal Road to ensure hassle free export of highly-perishable produce and to protect the interests of growers.
The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, PK Pole; officials of horticulture, traffic and other allied departments were present.
An order issued by the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir said that the Mughal Road "is hereby declared open for downward vehicular traffic exclusively for transportation of fresh fruit" like cherry, peach, plum and apricot to outside states from 16.06.2020. As per the order no passenger vehicular movement will be allowed.
A senior official said the decision will immediately help cherry growers ferry their produce to outside markets.
This decision has given a sigh of relief to the fruit growers who were at the receiving end due to covid19 lockdown and frequent disruptions in the traffic on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.
Chairman KVFGDU Bashir Ahmad Basheer welcomed the decision saying it would definitely help distressed farmers who were facing subdued demand due to lockdown.
Allowing ferrying of cherry through the Mughal Road will help supplies reach outside markets on time, he said.
He said that the local canning factories that would procure 40 percent of the cherry yield were mostly closed. "In this situation, the only way left for the growers is to send their fruit to outside markets."
Peerzada Shabir, an orchard owner said: "It was our demand and finally the government has listened to us. It will provide some succour to the ailing fruit industry."
The cherry is among some crops harvested in Kashmir in the early summers. The crop with little shelf life needs to be sent to outside markets as soon as it is harvested.
Earlier, an umbrella body of fruit growers- Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union- had sent an SOS to Lieutenant Governor seeking the administration help in sending the cherry yield to outside markets.
According to estimates, Kashmir produces annually 13000-15000 metric tons of cherry getting a turnover of Rs 150-200 crore.
1-way traffic for oil tankers, fruit trucks
Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Sanjeev Verma today convened a meeting with officers regarding resumption of vehicular traffic on the Mughal Road for oil tankers and fruit trucks.
The meeting observed that the Mughal Road, connecting Shopian in South Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch districts in Jammu region offers the shortest route to Kashmir and so acts as an important route for trade and commerce activities in the region. "Hence, it decided to resume one-way traffic only for oil tankers and fruit trucks," an official handout said.
The Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, The Deputy Commissioners along with the SSPs and other concerned officers of Shopian, Poonch and Rajouri participated in the meeting through video conference.
The Divisional Commissioner asked the Deputy Commissioners to establish check posts at various locations en route with adequate deployment of police personnel. He also asked them to make arrangements for screening of the truckers besides instructing them not to allow any other vehicle on the road other than the permitted oil tankers and fruit trucks only.
He had earlier chaired a meeting of Urban Transport Environment Improvement Committee (UTEIC) to review and discuss the traffic management plan for AIIMS Jammu.
The meeting was attended by IGP Traffic J&K T. Namgyal, Commissioner JMC, Avny Lawasa, VC JDA, Babila Rakwal, Project Officer, NHAI, Ajay Rajak, Senior Town Planners, Engineers of PWD, CPWD, SP Rural Jammu and other concerned officers while Chief Town Planner attended the meeting through video conferencing.
The meeting also discussed in detail several aspects of traffic management plan for AIIMS Jammu which is being established at Samba district of Jammu division.
The Committee also advised that AIIMS shall make a slip road for smooth merge of traffic on the NH-44. The completion certificate shall be issued after completion of construction of the building and access roads including service roads as per approved drawings. The AIIMS will also ensure the provision for disposal of Bio- Medical waste within the premises to the satisfaction of Pollution Control Board and Jammu Development Authority. Besides, non-motorized transport corridors will be created in the campus.