Poonch: The opening of the historical Mughal Road in Jammu and Kashmir has provided an impetus to apple business, making it easily accessible for the locals to purchase at reasonable prices.
The Mughal Road connects Bafliaz, a town in Poonch district, to Shopian in Pulwama district of the Kashmir Valley. The road passes over the ‘Pir Panjal’ Mountain range, which is at an altitude of 3505 meters.
The Mughal Road construction project was conceived in the year 1969 and further execution of the project took place in 1977. But after the completion of a 30-kilometer stretch, construction work stopped.
The opening of the road has cut down transportation costs of produce and improved accessibility.
The president of traders association, Poonch, Sunil Kumar Gupta, said that apples grown in Jammu and Kashmir can easily be transported through to Poonch and Rajouri districts, which has decreased the market price of the produce considerably.
“For the past three years, the apples which are being transported through the Mughal road have increased apple business. Earlier, the apples were sold for rupees 80 to rupees 100. But with the opening of the road, people are able to buy apples for rupees 20 to 30,” said Gupta.
The apple industry in the Kashmir Valley is backbone of the state’s economy contributing billions of rupees from the export of the fruit to other parts of the country and abroad.
An apple seller, Syed Imtiaz Ahmed, expressed happiness as opening of the Mughal Road has proved beneficial for his business and enhanced trade in the district.
“With God’s grace and opening of the Mughal road, our apple business has increased. We had to ferry the fruit from Jammu and we had to waste lot of time in transportation. It used to take two to three days,” said Ahmed.