Srinagar- In the ongoing apple harvesting season, where farmers are pumping tones of apples into cold storages across Kashmir, the Government of India has made an important observation suggesting that the Union Territory lacks cold storage and ripening chamber facilities, resulting in damages during transportation.
These observations surfaced in a report recently released by the Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry. “Cold storage and ripening chamber facilities are not established in J&K, the agri-produce straight goes to Punjab which results in damages during transportation,” the Union Ministry noted.
However, when Kashmir Observer contacted several farmers they said “as such there’s no dearth of such facilities in Kashmir”. “But yes, sometimes the space becomes very congested due to over burdening of stock. By providing more cold storage facilities, our produce can be retained for more months, which will ensure that prices in the market are stable,” says Parvez Sultan, a Baramulla based orchardist.
Pertinently, Kashmir has about 30 cold storage units having capacity to store over two lakh metric tonnes of fruit. Pulwama’s Lasipora industrial estate accounts for 22 cold storage units, while Shopian’s Aglar industrial estate area has six, one at Anantnag, two at Rangreth Srinagar and three in north Kashmir.
Last year, J&K administration had said that they’re coming up with three cold storage clusters with an investment of Rs 500 crore. This included 15 cold storages in the industrial estate of Aglar Fruit Mandi in Shopian.
But while sharing these observations on cold storages and ripening chambers, the report also shared certain facts about the state of affairs in J&K’s industries and Commerce sector.
According to the data shared in the survey titled, ‘LEADS 2022, Logistics Ease Across Different States’, J&K was ranked among the “achievers” category within the UT cluster. The states and Union Territory have been ranked in three different categories – Achievers, Fast Movers and Aspirers – for this year’s ranking.
The data revealed that the UT has scored above average across indicators related to quality of Infrastructure including Road, Rail, Terminal and Warehouse. Besides that, the data also noted that the UT has scored above average across all indicators related to Reliability of Logistics Services.
Among the UTs, in the ‘Quality of overall logistics services’, Chandigarh, Puducherry and Delhi lead in the category. However, J&K has been placed in the ‘Fast movers’ category alongwith Daman & Diu/ Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Andaman & Nicobar.
“Reasonableness of Road freight rates and Prices of terminal services is perceived to be a challenge as is seen across the cluster. J&K has been rated below average on all indicators related to Operating and Regulatory Environment,” the survey observed.
The survey has also said that there’s a shortage of skilled labour in J&K. “…as per Industrial policy, to avail industries benefits 75% staff should be local, however local people are not skilled which hampers the trade,” the report said.
According to the survey, currently there are no driver training schools to train the drivers for hilly terrains in J&K.
“Walnut kernels and Saffron strands are sent to Delhi from Srinagar by air for Exports, thereby increasing the cost of logistics,” reads the survey, adding that the theft/ pilferage of commodities is a matter of concern.
However, while pointing towards the higher transportation costs, the survey said that due to truck unions at Kathua, transportation rates are high. “Entry tax is levied on non-J&K goods vehicles, which increases the transportation cost,” the survey observed.
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