The Jammu and Kashmir government on Sunday declared heavy rainfall and snowfall on October 23-24 as ‘State Specific Calamity’ for providing relief to the affected families and Departments from State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). It allows the government to use SDRF funds for providing individual benefits to the affected farmers in south Kashmir barring Pulwama as well as those affected by hail and rainfall in Jammu, Udhampur, Kishtwar, Reasi, Samba and Kathua.
The SDRF, which was constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, is the primary fund available with state/UT governments when it comes to responding to notified disasters.
The announcement by the government comes days after Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said the administration was extending all possible support to the famers and introducing new reforms to make J&K a leading region in horticulture and agriculture production.
He had announced that recent heavy rain, hailstorm and snow affecting the crops have been declared a “natural calamity and UT-specific disaster.” Government will provide relief to all the farmers, who have suffered damages, he had said.
The inclement weather came much earlier than usual when many of the orchardists were still busy with harvesting and had not done trimming of the trees due to which a lot of trees have got damaged. This has plunged the stakeholders into despair and gloom.
In most of the places, the twigs and branches of trees were broken. Besides there was damage to fruit trees and was likely to have bearing next season.
While mercury has also dropped after record rains and snowfall which has led concern among the farmers who could manage to save apple produce by shaking off the snow from the fruit laden trees but fear that produce will not ripen to the same extent it would have with better temperature.
Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Association say that 50 percent of “A grade” delicious type crop was still being harvested especially in Shopian and Kulgam and 30 percent in Central and North Kashmir.
The trees were laden with ripe fruit and the stakeholders whose livelihoods are associated with the industry were expecting good returns. However, due to damage, the hopes have been dashed to ground, the association said. Now that the government has declared heavy rains and snowfall as ‘State Specific Calamity’, hopefully concerned department(s) will work out the losses early and affected farmers are provided timely and adequate relief.