Srinagar, Nov 27: Distressed farmers have something to rejoice as Jammu and Kashmir government is mulling to declare November 7 snowfall as ‘natural calamity’ to pave the way for providing adequate relief to the affected people.
The November 7 snowfall left a trail of death and destruction in Kashmir. At least seven people lost their lives. Horticulture sector suffered the major brunt in the snowfall.
Sources said Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, has directed district development commissioners to complete the loss assessment of the horticulture sector at the earliest and submit their reports by November 30.
“Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, recently held a meeting with DCs and heads of various departments. It was decided that once they (DCs) make assessment, government will declare November 7 snowfall as natural calamity. The issue will also be taken up with Centre for adequate relief to farmers, who suffered losses due to snowfall,” source privy to the meeting said.
Minutes of meeting accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveal that it was decided that issue of declaring snowfall as “natural calamity shall be taken up with government immediately so that relief is provided to the affected people”.
“All departments need to be more pro-active and previous shortcomings should not be repeated,” Divisional Commissioner, as per documents, has told officials.
Officials have been directed to be well prepared to deal with such situation in future. Most parts of Kashmir remained without electricity for over three days. The snowfall also caused a massive disruption in surface transport as roads were not cleared for days.
Apple growers said 90 percent of orchards have suffered extensive damages due to the snowfall.
According to Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers cum Dealers Union (KVFG), an umbrella body of all fruit associations of Kashmir, 80 percent of fruit trees were uprooted due to early snowfall.
“Fruit orchards have suffered 90 percent losses. It would take at least 15 years for growers to replace a damaged tree,” KVFG President Bashir Ahmad Basheer said.
Basheer noted horticulture sector was the main contributors to the J&K economy and more than seven lakh families are dependent on it.
Fruit growers also demanded free of cost pesticides, insecticides, fungicides and fertilizers for a period of five years to offset losses.