South Kashmir’s apples find bite back in 2023

Shopian, Jan 3: The year 2023 remained an eventful year for south Kashmir.

Over the last 12 months, the area comprising Anantnag, Shopian, Pulwama, and Kulgam districts, witnessed a flurry of apple-related conferences, big-ticket developmental projects, and comparatively an improved security situation.

SAVE APPLE, SAVE KASHMIR

Over the last few years, the apple farmers grappled with losses due to low prices, weather vagaries, and perennial closure of the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, spurring various farmer organisations to raise their voices in an attempt to save the apple industry and demand better prices for their harvest.

In July 2023, the Apple Farmers Federation of India (AFFI) in collaboration with Jammu and Kashmir KissanTehreek held the first apple national conference in Shopian.

It was followed by other district-level conferences held in Kulgam, Pulwama, and Anantnag districts.

Thousands of apple farmers participated in these conferences.

‘Save Apple, Save Kashmir’ remained the rallying cry of these conferences.

The farmers discussed and shared their ideas about saving the apple economy. They also presented a charter of demands before the government which included minimum support price, market intervention scheme, ban on imports, crop insurance, setting up of juice plants, and CA storages.

The erratic weather conditions in May and June followed by multiple spells of hailstorms left the apple farmers in various apple-producing areas of south Kashmir distraught.

Additionally, the comparatively low apple production this year remained a key worry for the apple farmers.

However, the good apple prices helped alleviate their worries.

More or less the seamless movement of trucks of apple-laden trucks also provided a respite to the apple farmers.

The apple-related conferences throughout the apple season succeed in mounting pressure on the government to facilitate the uninterrupted movement of trucks.

DEVELOPMENTAL PROJECTS

The administration took up a host of development projects across south Kashmir.

In Shopian, the construction work of Government Degree College Zainapora was started.

A new court complex came up in the town, while the construction work on 30 new rapid sand filtration plants was also taken up in the district.

The Municipal Council Shopian (MCS) rolled out a fleet of garbage vehicles for door-to-door collection of waste.

The initiative significantly contributed to maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in the town.

In the neighbouringPulwama district, the administration organised night sports tournaments besides completing various developmental projects.

The main focus remained on the rising unemployment, prompting the local administration to organise various job fairs.

In one such fair conducted by the District Employment and Counselling Centre (DE&CC), more than 700 unemployed youth were shortlisted for different jobs.

Similarly, Kulgam and Anantnag also witnessed the completion of several developmental projects.

In Kulgam, the construction work on a 400-meter-long Chambgund bridge over the Vaishaw rivulet was completed in a record 18 months.

The double-lane bridge was completed at Rs 32 crore and connects Devsar village with the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.

The district administration also organised various carnivals to promote the tourism of the area.

District Anantnag too witnessed a slew of developmental projects.

Lieutenant Governor ManojSinha laid the foundation stone of various development projects worth around Rs 290 crore in the district.

SECURITY SITUATION

In 2023, south Kashmir did not hog the headlines for violence.

Over the past few years, the area emerged as an epicentre for violence with frequent encounters, targeted killings and other despicable incidents of violence taking place almost daily.

However, during the last 12 months, except for two major terror attacks – one in Hallan, Kulgam and another in Kokernag, Anantnag – the security situation has seen a significant improvement.

District Pulwama saw two terror-related incidents involving the killing of two members of the minority community.

Similarly, the neighbouringShopian district witnessed a single terror attack, which left three Biharilabourers injured.

In district Anantnag, one Udhampur-based worker was killed while four others sustained injuries, two of them locals, in separate terror attacks.

In 2022, at least 29 such attacks were reported in Kashmir, many of them from south Kashmir.

The year 2023 also witnessed a dip in the recruitment of local youth in terror ranks.

Source

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