Apple industry suffered Rs 22-crore loss, 35% trees damaged: Govt

*Insufficient compensation akin to insult: Apple growers

Suhail Bhat
SRINAGAR, Nov 13: The apple growers who suffered huge losses due to last week’s snowfall said that the Government’s proposal to compensate them with meager amount won’t serve any purpose.
The Government decision to pay an amount of Rs 4,000-72,000 as compensation to those farmers whose orchards were damaged in last week’s snowfall has evoked strong resentment as they say the amount is insufficient to mitigate the loss.
“My entire orchard is shrouded under snow. I have lost all my 60 trees. They want to satisfy us with a meagre amount like they did last year. I have suffered a loss of over Rs 1 crore. How would this amount help me,” Abdul Rasheed, an apple grower from Shopian told Excelsior, adding that if Government is serious towards their issues they should pay sufficient amount to the growers.
As per the preliminary reports of the Horticulture Department the famers have suffered a loss of over Rs 22-crores and growers have lost 35% trees to snow. “These are tentative figures. The actual assessment will come after 10 days,” Director Horticulture, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat told Excelsior.
Asked if Government would increase amount of compensation, Bhat said: “I have also received the same feedback from the growers and will apprise Government about it. They have to take the final call,” he said.
An unexpected snowfall caused extensive damage to the apple orchards and harvested crop as it came down amid harvesting season in the Valley.
The growers lamented that Government’s decision to compensate growers with a meagre amount serves no purpose. “The snowfall has devastated my orchard and around 80% of trees has been damaged. How will this amount help me,” an orchardist said. His orchard is spread around 80 kanals of land and has hundreds of trees.
“Trees which would produce around 30 apples boxes have been damaged. It will take me another decade to get trees of that capacity. What will I do with Government’s Rs 72000,” he said. Last year, he said, he received Rs 2000 as compensation “for his 8-9 big trees”. “This time I have lost 40 trees. By paying this amount, they are ridiculing our miseries,” Javeed Ahmad, a grower from Anantnag said.
Some growers demanded waiving of their loans which they had taken under Government’s Kissan Credit Scheme (KCC). “I have taken a loan of around Rs 3 lakhs this year and it would be difficult for me to pay it back. It would help us if Government waives off the loans,” a grower said.
Under KCC scheme the Government provides low interest loans to the growers and around 70% of growers take the benefit of this scheme.