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No money from PoK, so no apples: Kashmiris

No money from PoK, so no apples: Kashmiris

Author: Mir Ehsan
Publication: ExpressIndia.com
Date: February 5, 2009
URL: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/No-money-from-PoK-so-no-apples-Kashmiris/419704/

Kashmir's Fruit Growers, who organised massive protests for opening of the Srinagar-Muzuffarabad road for the trade activities, now have stopped sending their apple consignments to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

In Oct, 2008, cross LoC trade through Kaman Bridge on the Srinagar-Muzuffarabad road was started amid much fanfare. On the first day, 14 apple laden trucks crossed the bridge.

Three months later, the fruit trade had hit the road block as Valley growers have completely stopped dispatching their apples to Muzuffarabad.

General Manager, DIC Mohammad Ashraf Wani who also is custodian for the cross LoC trade confirmed that no apple truck was sent across the LoC in the latest cross LoC trading.

"On Tuesday, six trucks were dispatched from Kashmir to PoK. But, not a single apple box was in the consignment," he said.

Wani, however, said the trade on barter system, continues through Uri's Kaman Bridge on weekly basis. "So far, 6,000 apple boxes were dispatched by the growers. But, growers seem to have lost interest in the trade through LoC."

Before the start of cross LoC trade growers were curious to dispatch their apples to PoK. Now, they are not.

"We were eagerly waiting for the beginning of cross LoC trade, even dispatched thousands of apple boxes to PoK in the start. But, so far growers have not received a single penny in lieu of the apples," President Fruit Mandi Sopore, Bashir Beig said.

"After three months, we don't know what happened to apples in PoK," he said.

Beig said the growers have stopped sending their products to PoK. "This time, we only dispatch our apples to different mandies of the country as the market is good there," he said.

"The trade is useless unless government starts a permanent communication link between two parts of Kashmir," he said.

The growers who dispatched their apples on the first day of opening of the trade too are losing hope about future of the trade. "Unless growers are allowed to visit to Pok, this cross LoC business is meaningless," said Javid Ahmad, a trader who dispatched around 100 apple boxes on October 20, 2008.

"I don't know what happened to my apples in PoK. Government has to do more to sustain this trade, otherwise in coming months no trade will take place via Kaman bridge. "

There is other reason that compelled growers not to dispatch their apples to PoK as the growers were offered lucrative rates by the Delhi based traders. "Soon after the cross LoC trade started, the rates of apples have gone up," said Beig, adding that this year all the losses got compensated by good rates.

Before the start of trade, the Union Ministry of Commerce has approved a list of 23 items from Kashmir. Pakistan, too, had sent a list of 26 items. The items from the Indian side include fruit (fresh and dry), spices, saffron, carpets, wall hangings, woolens, aromatic and medicinal plants, Cricket bats, black mushrooms, green tea, imli, dhania, rajmah.


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