6 years on, Bijbehara fruit market remains incomplete

Under-construction fruit market Jablipora.
Under-construction fruit market Jablipora.

Suhail Bhat
Srinagar, May 20: Six years have elapsed since the construction work of fruit market Jablipora in South Kashmir’s Bijbehara area began, but the work continues to drag on, bringing misery for the growers.
In order to improve the trading facilities for apple crop, which is the mainstay of the district’s economy, the Government in 2013 decided to build a state-of-the-art fruit market at Jablipora area of Bijbehara in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district. Subsequently, a sprawling 440 kanals of land were notified for the purpose but the market is incomplete even after six years.
The apple traders said they were disappointed due to an alleged unwillingness from the Government to improve trading facilities for the crop. “We were promised that the market will have 600 shops, market yards, weighing bridge, administrative block, bank, post office, cold storage, and other facilities,” Ghulam Rasool, a fruit grower said, adding the fruit traders were expecting the market would have been made functional by now, but the Government has been sitting over the proposal.
The traders said besides easing the trade, the market would have created jobs for hundreds of local youth. “The administrative apathy has wasted the whole project. This shows the attitude of the Government towards the development of the Horticulture sector in the State,” Ghulam Mohammad, another apple grower said.
Director of Planning and Marketing wing of Horticulture department, Shahnawaz Bukhari said that it would take atleast one year for the project to get completed. “The facility will be completed by the end of this year. Some auction platforms have been built. Administrative block is under construction. It will take at least one year to complete,” he said, adding that the department is awaiting the approval of the design for the construction of shops.
While showing displeasure over the delay in the completion of the project, the traders complained the department has failed to complete the facility even after contributing money. “The Planning and Marketing wing of Horticulture the department has even received contributions of Rs 1 lakh each from the traders and grower for allotting them space,” said Arshid Ahmad, a fruit trader from the area.
Another official who has been associated with the project from the beginning said the project received several blows. “The project was dented by three unrests in the Valley. The floods of 2014 also damaged it,” he said.
He added: “it is a comprehensive project wherein all the facilities will be provided. It cannot be achieved overnight and takes time. Once finished the people will realize what we have provided to them.”