*Urges to restrict entry of Iranian apple
SRINAGAR, Sept 27: Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari has demanded priority for passage to fruit laden trucks on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway. He also urged the Union Government to ensure that illegal import of apples is stopped to save the domestic fruit industry.
While addressing a press conference here today, Bukhari requested the Prime Minister to talk to Bangladesh to ease the export duty on Indian apples. He urged the J&K administration to ensure a priority passage to the fruit-laden trucks on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.
“A week ago, we approached Lieutenant Governor (LG) Manoj Sinha and requested him to ensure that the road is thrown open for the halted trucks laden with perishable fruit and he directed the concerned officials to regulate these trucks on the highway. Last night, we were informed that the road is being cleared for the halted fruit trucks. I appreciate the efforts by the concerned authorities for throwing the road open for these trucks, ” Bukhari said.
“Given the pathetic economic condition of people here and given the fact that a dominant majority of the Valley’s population is dependent on the fruit industry for their livelihood, authorities should ensure that fruit trucks should be given smooth passage on the highway,” he added.
Bukhari expressed deep concern over the flooding of untaxed Iranian apples into the Indian markets. “We see plenty of apples coming from Afghanistan into the Indian market. But the question is whether this fruit really comes from Afghanistan or not. And, does that country produces apples in such a quantity or not?”
“We know that fruit is being imported via Afghanistan to evade taxes, as under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement there is zero duty on anything that comes from Afghanistan. The traders are evading duty by sending this fruit via Afghanistan. The government must take action to stop this illegitimate practice,” he added.
Bukhari said the flooding of duty-free apple imports into the Indian markets is causing a dent in the Valley’s fruit industry. Kashmir’s majority population is directly or indirectly dependent on the fruit industry for its livelihood. The Government must take initiative to safeguard Kashmir’s fruit industry from the losses, Bukhari said.
Senior leaders Ghulam Hassan Mir, Dilawar Mir, Zaffar Manhas, Rafi Ahmad Mir, Malik Aftab, Farooq Andrabi, Muntazir Mohiuddin and Yawar Dilawar Mir also spoke on the occasion.