Srinagar September 27 : Apni Party President Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari has demanded a priority of passage to fruit trucks on the Srinagar–Jammu National Highway. He also urged the Union government to ensure illegal apple import is stopped to save the domestic fruit industry. Moreover, Apni Party president requested the Prime Minister to talk to Bangladesh to ease the export duty on Indian apples.
He was addressing a press conference at the party headquarters in Srinagar on Tuesday.
According to a statement issued here, Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari has urged the J&K administration to ensure a priority of passage to the fruit-laden trucks on the Srinagar Jammu Highway.
Addressing the press conference, he said, “A week or so 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. Thankfully, 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. But at the same time, I would like to ask them why they didn’t make some efforts 15 days ago and why they let these trucks remain halted for such a long period?’’
He demanded that perishable fruit-loaded trucks should be given priority on the highway.
He 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.”
Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari expressed his deep concern over the flooding of untaxed Iranian apples into the Indian markets.
He said, “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 produce apples in such a quantity or not?”
He explained, “We know as a matter of fact that this 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 and it is a clear case of illegal duty evasion. The government must take action to stop this illegitimate practice.”
Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari added that the overflowing of duty-free apple imports into the Indian markets is causing a dent in the Valley’s fruit industry. He said, “Kashmir’s more than eighty percent population is directly or indirectly dependent on the fruit industry for their livelihood, thus the government must take initiative to safeguard our fruit industry from the losses.”
Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari requested Prime Minister Modi to intervene in the matter.
He said, “I request the Prime Minister to intervene in the matter to stop the illegal import of apples into the Indian market and save Kashmir’s fruit industry from further losses.”
He also requested the Prime Minister to talk to Bangladesh leadership to ensure the neighbouring country eases export duty on Indian apples.
Besides Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari, Senior Vice President Ghulam Hassan Mir, Party’s Parliamentary Committee Chairman Mohammad Dilawar Mir, Vice President Zaffar Iqbal Manhas, General Secretary Rafi Ahmad Mir, Chairman DDC Srinagar Malik Aftab, Media Advisor Farooq Andrabi, State Secretary and District President Badgam Muntazir Mohiuddin, Former legislator and District President Baramulla Yawar Dilawar Mir, District President Kupwara Raja Manzoor, District President Pulwama Ghulam Mohammad Mir, Provincial President of Party’s women wing Dilshada Shaheen, and others were present in the press conference.