Growers smell rat, say previous applications kept at bay; Dir says permanent allotment soon
By: Ahmad Shabir
Anantnag: The fresh applications invited by the marketing and planning wing of the horticulture department in an alleged secret manner for allotment of space at the fruit terminal Bijbehara have left scores of fruit growers and traders fuming, who allege that they were kept uninformed about the process.
Scores of fruit growers of Dachnipora Bijbehara, one of the biggest apple producing areas of South Kashmir have registered a strong protest, terming the invitation of fresh applications by authorities for temporary allotment of space at the fruit terminal as unjustified.
“Eight years ago, we have already paid Rs one lakh in advance and have been desperately waiting for allotment of shops at the fruit terminal. But now all of a sudden, authorities issued a notification inviting fresh applications from fruit traders for temporary allotment of space, which is beyond our comprehension,” a delegation of fruit growers told Precious Kashmir.
Since the notification was issued in a secret manner, they said, only some so-called representatives of the fruit growers and traders from the area have been able to apply, who had information in this regard.
“We were kept uninformed about the temporary allotment of space. Most of us came to know about the same on the last date of the submission of applications. They kept the entire process virtually secret. Only some so-called representatives of the fruit associations were taken into confidence,” a grower, Mohammad Sultan said.
He said that more than one thousand growers and traders from different parts of the Valley had previously applied for the space but this time, they entertained only 200 applications that reached them first.
The fruit terminal is coming up near Jablipora Bijbehara at the cost of Rs 35 crore. Besides market yard, fruit terminal will have a weighing bridge, bank branch, administrative block, post office and cold storage facilities and at least 600 shops for fruit traders.
Though the MPH authorities tasked with the construction of the fruit terminal have collected Rs one lakh from at least one thousand growers and traders in advance several years ago, promising them space at the terminal but most of them, these growers complain were ignored when it came to allotting temporary space.
“Authorities have agreed that the local growers and traders, most of who hail from Dachnipora will be given preference in allotment of space but now we fail to understand the reason behind inviting fresh ones without informing all the previous applicants. They are trying to mess up the things to accommodate their blue-eyed boys. They should come clear on what they are intending to do or we will be forced to move the court,” said another fruit grower and trader, Ghulam Mohammad.
Another fruit grower, Mohammad Ashraf said that the MPH authorities in nexus with some traders of the area issued the notification on 26 October and fixed 31 October the last date for submission of applications.
“Out of four days, Saturday and Sunday were off and most of the growers remained unaware. We have apprehensions that those whose applications were accepted this time for temporary allotment for two months will be given preference during the process of permanent allotment and rest of us will be left out or our fate will be decided through draw of lots,” Ashraf said.
The growers have appealed the Lieutenant Governor Administration and Deputy Commissioner (DC) Anantnag to look into the matter so that the deserving growers and traders get the space at fruit terminal.
Director, Marketing and Planning wing of Horticulture, Vishesh Mahajan, however, said that the applications were invited from the traders and growers from Anantnag district only for temporary allotment for only two months—November and December.
“This was done in the interest of local traders on trial basis. But I assure you this has nothing to do with the permanent allotment process. We have collected affidavit from the traders who applied this time that they will have no claim for permanent allotment of space on the basis of temporary allotment,” Director said.
He denied the allegations that this was done to favour particular group of traders. “The permanent allotment will be done in a very fair manner that too in presence of media so that there is no scope for any favoritism,” Director told Precious Kashmir.
However, the local growers who were unable to submit applications said that inviting applications for temporary allotment of space at fruit terminal at a time when fruit harvesting season is almost over makes the process doubtful.