For Shopian, 2021 brought mixed bag of development, miseries

In October 23, an unseasonal snowfall spelled doom for apple orchards in the area. According to the growers, at least 30 percent of the crop was yet to be harvested when it began snowing.
For Shopian, 2021 brought mixed bag of development, miseries
A farmer cleans off the snow from an apple tree in south Kashmir's Shopian, on Saturday 23 October 2021.Mir Wasim for Greater Kashmir

For south Kashmir's Shopian district, the year 2021 was a heady mix of development and miseries.

While the area witnessed significant development, COVID-19 and unseasonal snowfall caused untold suffering to the people here.

DEVELOPMENT

In 2021, the district trod on the path of development with local administration taking up multiple developmental projects and novel initiatives.

Official data suggest that at least 123 km of road length were macadamised in 2021 while two PMGSY roads were completed in record time.

Municipal Council Shopian (MCS) constructed a 52 -feet tall clock tower in Gole Chakri and embellished dozens of bare walls of the town with murals and graffiti.

Besides dedicating an open-air gym to the locals, the MCS developed at least three parks in the area.

The municipal authorities also installed retro-reflective studs along a nearly kilometer-long thoroughfare, passing through the town.

For the first time, the town got its own coffee house, providing local youth a space to exchange their ideas.

The administration added Lahanthoora, an awe-inspiring mountain peak located in quaint Arshipora village, some 4 km from Shopian town, on the tourist map.

In 1964, the peak catapulted to prominence when a song by famous Bollywood flick Kashmir Ki Kali, featuring Shami Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore was shot there.

However, due to administrative apathy, the location remained underdeveloped.

Of late, a footbridge over the Rambiara stream connecting Krichapathri, a tribal area with district headquarters has been constructed.

The floor of the bridge was made of walnut timber so that it could withstand the harsh weather conditions and horse load.

In absence of the bridge, the residents had to cross the moving waters using huge boulders laid precariously in the stream.

According to the residents, many of them had suffered close calls in the past.

COVID-19

Although the district has presently only two COVID-19 positive cases, the area was severely impacted during the second wave of coronavirus.

The district with a population of nearly 2.6 lakh logged 3121 positive cases and 21 deaths in 2021.

In May, District Hospital Shopian overran with infected patients and around 39 patients were put on oxygen against a capacity of 35 beds.

However, the numbers began declining from the first week of June, and now the district has the lowest number of infections in Kashmir.

EARLY SNOWFALL

In October 23, an unseasonal snowfall spelled doom for apple orchards in the area. According to the growers, at least 30 percent of the crop was yet to be harvested when it began snowing.

The snowfall caused untold damage to the apple orchards, particularly in the upper areas like Kellar, Sedow, Heerpora, Zawoora, Saidpora, Reshnagri, and Jamnagri.

Some of the growers said that the snowfall caused 50 to 60 percent damage to their orchards.

Due to the damage, many growers said that they were unable to even recoup the production costs.

The low market prices due to the sale of Iranian apples in different mandis across India also added to the woes of the apple growers.

The run of bad luck of the apple farmers continued for the fourth straight year in 2021.

In 2018 and 2019, early snowfall in November had wreaked havoc with the apple farms.

Last year, scab attacked around 80 percent of the produce in the area, downgrading the quality of the fruit.

Greater Kashmir
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