Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today promised to revive the economic boom of the historic Sopore town, in Baramulla district, and reposition it as a major fruit marketing hub.
"The Government will promote fruit business of Sopore town and revive the days when people used to call it as Chota (mini) London," Mr Sayeed said after taking a series of decisions to reposition Sopore as a major fruit marketing hub and speed up ongoing projects in the Valley's premier apple town.
The chief minister, who was accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, visited Sopore and inspected the Terminal Fruit Mandi, Sub-District Hospital and By Pass Bridge which is nearing completion after missing several deadlines.
Mr Sayeed also interacted with several prominent citizens and invited suggestions for improving basic facilities in the town.
Terming horticulture as the bedrock of Kashmir's export-oriented industry which sustained the Valley's economy when it fell on hard times, the Chief Minister announced upgradation of Sopore Fruit Market on modern lines so that it matches the benchmark standards.
The chief minister also sanctioned Rs 4 crores for improvement of roads within the fruit mandi premises and its periphery to facilitate movement of fruit-laden trucks.
Asking the fruit 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 Controlled Atmosphere (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. The fruit growers will also be provided insurance cover against weather vagaries," he said.
The chief minister 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 in south Kashmir, where several CA stores have been set up in Industrial Growth Centre (IGC).
At the under-construction Sub District Hospital (SDH) Sopore, 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.
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 Organisation, and issued directions for making it operational in the first week of August.
The Chief Minister also issued instructions for beautification of Jhelum embankments around Sopore to improve the town's ambiance.
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.
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.