Untimely snowfall damages apple crop in Kashmir
Srinagar: Apple crop worth crores of rupees have been damaged in Kashmir due to early snowfall, officials said Sunday.
Political leaders have extended support to the farmers and asked the state government to take up assessment of losses and compensation for the ryots.
A large number of fruit-laden apple trees in Kashmir have either been uprooted or their stems have broken due to heavy snowfall on Saturday, an horticulture department official said.
The worst affected orchards are in Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Bandipora and parts of Baramulla districts, the official said.
“Some apple varieties which are plucked late in autumn were still on the trees. The exact losses can be determined only after a detailed survey but as per conservative estimates fruit worth several crores have been lost due to the snow,” he added.
Orchardists are demanding the government to set up teams for assessment of losses and compensation be provided to them. “There has been lot of damage to apple orchards, especially in south Kashmir area. The government should immediately order loss assessment and compensation,” said Shakeel Ahmad, an orchardist from Pulwama.
The Bandipora district administration has already fanned out teams from the revenue department to assess losses to orchards and private property due to the snowfall.
“The revenue teams are inspecting losses at orchards and private property since early morning (Sunday) for prompt compensation and assistance,” Deputy Commissioner Bandipora Shahid Choudhary said.
Lauding the Bandipora administration, National Conference leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah said other districts should follow the Bandipora administration’s lead.
“Other districts need to immediately deploy teams of revenue staff to assess the damage so that compensation can be disbursed,” Omar said.
Expressing sorrow over the farming losses, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti asked the state administration to assess the quantum of damage suffered by the horticulture industry which was in peak harvest season.
She also appealed to the central government to consider a package for the fruit growers whose produce had been lost due to the extreme weather conditions.
PDP MLAs Haseeb Drabu and Aijaz Ahmad Mir, who represent major apple growing assembly constituencies in Pulwama and Shopian districts respectively, called for attention towards the plight of farmers.
“An early snowfall in the valley has disrupted city life which is being talked about. No one seems to have noticed the extensive damage to the apple crop and fruit bearing trees resulting in income loss. State government must estimate and compensate the loss (sic),” Drabu said in microblogging site Twitter.
“Apple orchards and the harvest have suffered tremendous losses in Shopian district due to heavy snowfall before natural defoliation of trees. I urge Governor Satya Pal Malik to intervene and direct the administration to swiftly assess the damage and compensate the losses,” Mir said. (PTI)