Proposed rail project threatens Kashmir apple farms

by / ⠀News / April 11, 2024
"Rail Project Threat"

Kashmir’s flourishing apple farms, major contributors to the local economy, face a threat from a proposed rail project possibly affecting their soil fertility and stability. This project does not sit well with local growers as it could damage their farmland and livelihoods.

These concerns are coupled with fears that the rail initiative could disturb the region’s delicate ecological balance. While it promises improved transportation, many argue alternative routes should be explored to safeguard Kashmir’s vibrant apple trade and the area’s environmental health.

For Muhammad Shafi, a local farmer, the abrupt announcement of his 1,500 square metre farm being selected for the rail line has forced him to abandon his plot. He now grapples with the sudden loss of his land, income source, and uncertain future.

It is crucial to remember that the lands chosen for the railway are amongst the region’s fruit production hotspots, potentially impacting the apple harvest. Railway project plans, however, promise off-setting efforts aiming to maintain industry integrity.

Strategic moves, including high-tech irrigation systems and techniques, are set to boost crop yields despite construction.

Rail project poses risks to Kashmir’s apple farming

The railway is also expected to expand the regional fruit industry’s footprint, facilitating easier product transportation.

Efforts for mitigating immediate disruption, such as temporary relocation of impacted farmers, are also in the offing. Project coordinators pledge the endeavour will pave the way for a prospering future for apple growers, not pose a roadblock.

Jammu and Kashmir’s apple farms employ around 27% of the region’s population and contribute 8% to the state’s GDP. Harvested apples undergo grading, sorting, and packaging before reaching the market, a process supported by quality seeds and advanced farming techniques, alongside government help and training programs.

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However, farmers have been receiving informal notifications about the looming railway line, often through WhatsApp, reinforced occasionally by the police and security forces. This seemingly forces them into a situation which they find unacceptable. For these farmers, the railway line has become a symbol of their loss of control and choice over their land.

Despite alleged restrictions, many farmers have started mobilising and participating in public demonstrations against the land acquisition. Farmer’s warnings of a potential future filled with widespread hunger if the orchards are converted into government property, highlights the gravity of this issue for those who depend on these fertile grounds.

About The Author

April Isaacs

April Isaacs is a freelance writer and editor with over 10 years of experience. From the art scene in Paris to pastures in Montana, April has covered individuals' stories and can confirm that no two stories are the same.

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