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Govt of India seems to have misplaced priorities for J&K: Altaf Bukhari

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Srinagar, October 9: Taking an exception to the hasty implementation of central laws including the amendment to municipal Acts, Apni Party president Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Friday said that it is unfortunate that the Government of India seems to have misplaced priorities for Jammu and Kashmir.
In a statement issued here, Bukhari said that the first and the foremost priority for the union government should have been immediate restoration of Statehood to J&K which would have eventually paved the way for resumption of democratic processes. “Unfortunately, one fails to understand the reasons for the delay in the decisions of urgent nature when it comes to J&K,” he remarked.
Apni Party president observed that people in J&K are already reeling under severe pressure of economic depression caused since August last year and coupled with the prevailing pandemic lockdowns. “Administratively also the people in J&K feel suffocated and are waiting eagerly for a democratically elected government to address their sufferings. But the people at the helm in Delhi seem to be least bothered about these important public issues and are instead adding to their woes by these rushed decisions,” he added.
On the delay in approval of the Market Intervention Scheme for J&K, Bukhari said that the lack of will in the government has pushed the Horticulture Sector to the extreme levels of insignificance. He said that this economically important sector, especially the Apple industry is the backbone of J&K’s economy with a huge market size accounting to around 84 percent of total production of the fruit in the country.
“This industry provides employment to around 27 per cent people in J&K and lakhs of families are directly or indirectly dependent on this sector. However, the lack of market integration, frequent closure of Srinagar-Jammu National Highway and other hostile factors have immensely dented this industry,” Apni Party president observed.
He remarked that last year’s weather vagaries and the political instability followed by the strict COVID lockdown which restricted the movement of packing material and the packed fruit had a crippling effect on this vital industry and as per rough estimates around more than 10 Lac MTS of apple produce is awaiting sale.
Bukhari remarked that the government’s support price scheme had empowered the apple growers and increased their confidence under extremely challenging circumstances a few years ago. He pleaded that the majority of the fruit growers, this season have not been able to sell their produce and are facing an economically challenging situation to sustain their businesses.
“I call upon the Government of India to announce the Market Intervention Scheme without any further delay so as to enable the fruit growers of J&K to face the unique challenges in marketing their produce,” he demanded.
Bukhari, however, lauded the government of India for conceding to Apni Party’s demand for subsidized transportation and hiring of storage facilities including cold storage for fruit growers but stressed on the need for proper awareness about implementation of these initiatives on the ground. “The J&K government must involve the field staff of the Horticulture department to make the growers aware about how to avail the benefits of these schemes so as to make them a success,” he opined.
The first wave of Covid-19 has started receding in India over the last three weeks, for the first time since the disease began spreading in the country. As this newspaper reported on Thursday, new infections have dropped 20% from peak levels in the last 21 days while daily deaths are down 16% from peak levels. While other countries have seen fluctuations and waves (the United States, for instance, is on its third wave) India’s trajectory had been climbing consistently.
As the first wave starts receding, it offers the both the State and citizens a moment to reflect on the lessons and the current situation. Doctors and scientists are learning more about the disease every passing day — they have a better sense of which treatments work and (just as importantly) which don’t; or when to hospitalise patients and when to isolate them at their homes. India also has the luxury of being able to observe the progression of the disease in countries that are in more advanced stages of the outbreak. The global experience shows that it is almost inevitable that another wave of infections (and subsequently, deaths) will take place. In most countries, the second wave has been stronger than the first, but decidedly less fatal. Experts suspect that India’s second wave may come on the heels of the festive season — Dussehra, Durga Puja, Eid Milad-un-Nabi, Diwali and Chhath will all be celebrated in the next month-and-a-half — and in winter. Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is a child of winter. Like all respiratory ailments, cold climate gives it ideal conditions to thrive. Winter also offers the virus plenty of cover with a spike in several other diseases such as the common cold, influenza and other respiratory infections that can present identical symptoms.
All of this sets the stage for a crucial few months ahead. While the virus gets better conditions to spread and thrive, doctors and scientists are now better prepared for the battle ahead. While the government must not let its guard down, citizens will have a critical role in shaping the trajectory of the disease. They will need to display a keen sense of individual responsibility through the festive season — when they visit temples, pandals or when they meet relatives at home. The government’s campaign, launched on Thursday, to encourage citizens to adopt Covid-19-appropriate behaviour is welcome. How citizens behave, how stringently they wear masks, how carefully they remain socially distant may be the difference between life and death in the coming weeks.

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