SOPORE,July 23:Promising to revive historic town Sopore’s prosperity and economic boom, predominantly due to flourishing fruit business, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, today took a series of decisions to reposition it as a major fruit marketing hub and speed up ongoing projects in Valley’s premier apple town, here today.
Accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Singh, Mufti Sayeed visited the Valley’s historic town today and inspected Sopore’s Terminal Fruit Mandi, Sub-District Hospital and Bypass Bridge, which is nearing completion after missing several deadlines. He also interacted with several prominent citizens and invited suggestions for improving basic facilities in the town.
Minister for Horticulture, Haj and Auqaf, A. R. Veeri, Minister for Health & Medical Education, Ch. Lal Singh, Minister for LJ&PA and Relief & Rehabilitation, Syed Basharat Bukhari, Minister for Public Works, Syed Altaf Bukhari, MP, Fayaz Ahmad Mir, MLA Sopore, Haji Rashid Ahmad Dar, MLA Rafiabad, Yawar Dilawar Mir and MLC, Muzaffar Parrey were also present on the occasion.
Describing horticulture as the bedrock of its export-oriented industry which sustained the Valley's economy when it fell on hard times, the Chief Minister announced up-gradation of Sopore Fruit Market on modern lines so that it matches the benchmark standards. He also sanctioned Rs.4 crore for improvement of roads within the fruit mandi premises and its periphery to facilitate movement of fruit-laden trucks in and out of the fruit mandi. “The Government will promote fruit business of Sopore town and revive the days when people used to call it as Chota London,” he said while addressing a huge gathering of fruit farmers.
Asking the growers to explore air transport for export of quality fruit to outside markets, the Chief Minister said Sopore Fruit Mandi will be upgraded to match international standards and will have add-on facilities like CA stores, packaging and grading line, soil and pesticide testing labs, online trading and dedicated transport terminals. “We have already announced market intervention scheme for Sopore and Shopian towns for quality control,” he said and added that the fruit growers will also be provided insurance cover against weather vagaries.
He also sought cooperation from leading fruit growers for establishing cold storage chains for quality improvement of fruit, in particular apple, as has been done in Lassipora, Pulwama, where several CA stores have been set up in Industrial Growth Centre (IGC).
While moving around the premises at under-construction Sub District Hospital (SDH) Sopore, Mufti Sayeed asked the Health Department to upgrade it as a Model Hospital, laced with all modern equipment and manpower to meet day-to-day healthcare needs of the people. The Health Minister assured the Chief Minister that roofing and one additional block of the hospital will be completed to make it immediately functional so that patients are able to avail facilities.
So far, Rs.31.65 crore have been spent on the 200-bedded hospital, which will also have six operation theatres and cater to a large population living in and around Sopore town.
Placing high priority on de-congesting the main Sopore town from heavy vehicular traffic, the Chief Minister inspected the Sopore Bypass Bridge, being constructed by Border Roads Organization, and issued directions for making it operational in the first week of August, next month. Once complete, the bridge will provide alternate access to Handwara and Kupwara, bypassing the main market of Sopore, thus providing huge relief to the people.
The Chief Minister also issued instructions for beautification of Jhelum embankments around Sopore to improve the town’s ambience.
During his interaction with prominent citizens of the apple town, the Chief Minister announced construction of an additional filtration plant to improve the quality of drinking water. Over the years, the people of Sopore town have suffered due to poor quality of potable water. The construction of additional filtration plant will augment the water supply presently being sourced from Sharakwara Pipeline.
The Chief Minister also directed the Tourism Department to create facilities for zaereens at Ziyarat Shah-e-Hamdan, Sopore, under Pilgrim Tourism.
Speaking on the occasion, the Deputy Chief Minister, sanctioned Rs.1 crore for improvement of lanes and drains in Sopore town. He also assured that the streetlights in the town will be made functional very shortly.
Commissioner / Secretary, Health & Medical Education, Dr. M. K. Bhandari, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Asgar Hassan Samoon, Secretary to Chief Minister, M. H. Malik, Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla, Mushtaq Ahmad Shah, Chief Engineer, R&B, Satish Razdan, MD JKPCC, P. L. Bushan, besides several other Divisional and District level officers accompanied the Chief Minister during the visit.