SRINAGAR – Placing highest priority on the export-oriented horticulture sector, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, reiterated his Government’s resolve to improve the quality of fruit by starting the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) and weather-based Crop Insurance for fruit growers to protect them against risk of losses.
He said high-yielding rootstocks are being imported from Europe to rejuvenate our old orchards and fruit mandis are being upgraded to enhance exports to markets outside the State.
The Chief Minister said this while undertaking a marathon tour of South Kashmir districts of Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam, during which he took stock of several ongoing projects.
Mufti Sayeed said Market Intervention Scheme will be taken up in Shopian and Sopore Apple Towns in the first instance, where C-grade apples will be procured to ensure that top quality fruit is exported to the markets. “Growers who register themselves with the Government will be provided the incentive of insurance cover and their fruit will be branded to increase their saleability,” he added.
He said similar branding of fruit will also be launched for Mango, Kinnaw and Pear in Jammu and apricot in Ladakh region.
On his arrival in Pulwama Fruit Mandi, the Chief Minister emphasized upon expanding the existing site and upgrading the facility with in-transit CA stores, Grading and Packaging Line and a dedicated Truck Terminal. He was told that a link road will be constructed between Fruit Mandi and the Pulwama Circular Road to provide alternate connectivity.
At the under-construction site for Shopian Fruit Mandi, which was badly damaged by floods of 2014, Mufti Sayeed directed the DC and Chief Engineer, I&FC, to conceive a project that secures the mandi site by way of construction of a protection wall.
The Chief Minister also asked Minister for Horticulture, A. R. Veeri, to activate special mobile squads who would inspect various orchards to prevent the fruit from the threat of diseases, in particular scab, and check the quality of pesticides.
Later, at Haal Transit Accommodation, Mufti Sayeed interacted with the Kashmiri Pandit government employees, who raised several issues pertaining to lack of maintenance, inadequate accommodation, improvement in sanitation and drainage, delay in release of salaries, uninterrupted power supply and fencing of the premises.
The Chief Minister assured that their demands will be looked into and addressed on priority. He also passed directions for setting up a dispensary and primary school for children, besides fencing of the colony.
Minister for Finance, Dr. Haseeb A. Drabu, who is also the MLA of the constituency, announced setting up of an ATM Counter in the Colony, out of his Constituency Development Fund.
At Hall village, Dr. Drabu, who also holds the charge of Culture portfolio, informed the Chief Minister that it will be developed as a Model Heritage Village.
Mufti Sayeed directed that while developing the village, the traditional facade of the existing structures be maintained, besides taking measures to improve the aesthetic appearance by landscaping the area.
At Government Higher Secondary School, Keegam, the Chief Minister addressed the students and praised their enormous talent. “I am so happy that a girl student from Tral topped the Matriculation exams. Education should provide our youth with avenues of gainful employment so that they can earn livelihood with honour,” he said.
Mufti Sayeed directed the concerned authorities to immediately fill up the vacant post of school principal. He said the institution will be provided computers to equip the Lab, besides acquainting the students with e-learning concepts like smart classrooms.
Addressing the people at Keegam, the Chief Minister stressed upon zero tolerance on the scourge of corruption. He said the Government is committed to provide clean and accountable administration that will bring in a discernible change on the ground and provide succour to the people.
The Chief Minister also took stock of the ongoing work on Shopian Mini-Secretariat, which is being executed by JK PCC. He issued directions for immediate landscaping of the Secretariat premises and construction of a restaurant to facilitate the people.
MD JK PCC informed the Chief Minister that all the district offices will be shifted to the new premises. He said in the first phase, the DC’s Office will be commissioned in July next month.
Mufti Sayeed also interacted with prominent citizens of the district, including lawyers, traders and fruit growers in a civil society meet.
While visiting 200-bedded District Hospital Shopian, Mufti Sayeed was informed that ground and first floor of the four-storied building will be made functional by November this year.
The Chief Minister also inaugurated the new DIC Complex at Kulgam and inspected the ongoing work on the polytechnic institute.
At Aharbal, the Chief Minister issued directions for up-grdation of receiving stations at Nagam and Manzgam. He also asked Chief Engineer R&B to examine the feasibility of Nandimarg-Gool Bulabgarh Road.