Apple Town to be developed as state’s premier fruit marketing hub; Govt. to annihilate distances by improving road connectivity
SOPORE, AUGUST 17: Bringing to an end the excruciatingly-long wait of the people of Sopore town, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, today inaugurated the 216-metre-long Sopore Bypass Bridge, which had shifted several deadlines, ever since its construction first started 23 years ago.
The Chief Minister, during his earlier visit to the Apple Town on July 23, had directed Border Roads Organization (BRO) to get the bridge ready by August. “I had given my word last month and today I have fulfilled my promise,” the Chief Minister said, while addressing a huge gathering of people, which roared in joy to see the bridge being opened for vehicular traffic.
Minister for Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs, Relief & Rehabilitation, Syed Basharat Bukhari, Minister for Public Works, Floriculture, Gardens & Parks, Syed Altaf Bukhari, Member Parliament and former Deputy Chief Minister, Muzaffar Husain Baig, MP Fayaz Ahmad Mir, MLAs, Haji Abdul Rasheed Dar and Yawar Dilawar Mir, MLC, G. N. Monga and GoC 15 Corps, Lt. Gen, Subrata Saha, were also present on the occasion.
Reiterating his commitment to improve connectivity to annihilate distances, Mufti Sayeed said the opening of the Sopore Bypass Bridge comes as a major relief to the people as it will de-congest the main Sopore town and rid it from frequent traffic jams. “The bridge will facilitate movement of heavy vehicles away from the town and connect Sopore outskirts with Kupwara and Baramulla,” he added.
Mufti Sayeed praised Minister for Public Works, BRO and the district administration for speeding up construction of the remaining 30 per cent work on the bridge, which coincides with the beginning of the apple season when fruit-laded trucks move to markets outside the state. “I want to see Sopore come up as a premier fruit marketing hub for which it needs better roads and a fully-equipped fruit mandi,” he said and added that his Government has already started working on it in a mission mode.
The Chief Minister had during his earlier visit to apple town announced upgradation of Sopore Fruit Mandi with benchmark facilities like CA stores, grading and packaging line, soil and pesticide testing lab, online marketing and well-laid out truck terminals. He had also sanctioned Rs. 4 crore for improvement of roads within the fruit mandi premises and its periphery to facilitate movement of vehicles.
Describing Sopore as a historic town, the Chief Minister said the place is bestowed with great intellectual and entrepreneurial potential, which remained subdued over the last two decades. He said the town has had an important place in the socio-cultural milieu of the valley and elders would still remember it being called as the Chota London of Kashmir.
Referring to the initiatives he took during his previous tenure as Chief Minister to strengthen the cross-LoC travel and trade, the Chief Minister said he favours hassle-free trade and to-and-fro movement of people, in particular cultural troupes, students, pilgrims and tourists across the LoC. “The opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Road was an invitation to the people from across the LoC to see infrastructure development in J&K,” he stated.
Mufti Sayeed said the present Government has taken several steps in improving and expanding facilities at Salamabad and established a Single Window Clearance system for efficient regulatory mechanism. He said the Government will also expedite four-lanning of the Srinagar-Uri Highway. “I shall be visiting Salamabad shortly to take stock of the facilities being extended for smooth conduct of trade and travel,” he stated.
During his earlier visit to Salamabad and Kaman Post on June 04 this year, the Chief Minister had given several directions to strengthen cross-LoC trade and travel. Besides giving instructions for establishing a restaurant by JKTDC within the Trade Facilitation Centre, he had also ordered setting up residential accommodation for officers at Salamabad.
Speaking on the occasion, Muzaffar Hussain Baig said the inauguration of Sopore Bypass Bridge reflected the strong desire of the Chief Minister to fast-track progress and development in the State. He urged the people to be patient and give the Government time to prove itself as it is committed to fulfill all the promises it has made to the people.
Syed Basharat Bukhari, in his address, said the new bypass bridge would not only connect people of North Kashmir with the rest of the state, but also provide a lifeline to the economic activities of the region, in particular the export-oriented fruit business.
Asserting that the new bridge will benefit nearly 1.5 lakh growers and traders in the apple town, Syed Altaf Bukhari said the Government has already started work to improve all major roads to provide better connectivity to the people. He made specific reference of road projects like Sopore-Ladoora, Higam-Tarzua, and Fakir Bagh-Sultanpora and added that these would be taken in hand shortly.
Also present on the occasion were Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Asgar Samoon, DIG North Kashmir Range, Garib Das, Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla, Peerzada Mushtaq Ahmad and Chief Engineer, Project BEACON, Brig. Ashish K. Das.