The much hyped implementation of ‘National Mission on Saffron’ (NSM) project funded by central government with an aim to improve the productivity of saffron cultivation is proved a damp squib. According to the farmers, the Mission started by the Agriculture Department with great fanfare, is marred by scandals and frauds.
Scores of farmers told CNS that the project is a damp squib to achieve the desired results and returns.
Reliable sources said that the Vigilance Organization Kashmir is currently verifying and probing various allegations with regard to NSM in respect of district Pulwama vide FIR number 26/2013 and a thorough enquiry is expected to be conducted by the concerned investigating agency to reach the bottom to unearth the bungling and to save the public exchequer from loot and plunder.
According to reports saffron community have incurred huge losses while the present status of 49.00 hectors of Seed Multiplication Farm, located at Allowpora of district Shopian presents grim situation which smacks of malfunctioning.
According to farmers, the Farm Manager under whose supervision saffron corms meant for distribution to the farming community were sown in Allowpora Shopian has attributed the shortfall in seed production and multiplication to insufficient inputs, non commissioning of sprinkle irrigation system, inhospitable weather conditions and texture of soil.
The argument and claims have been negated by an official in his SOS vide MAF/2013-14/388-92 dated 26/07/2013 addressed to the Joint Director (inputs) mentioning that 19 hectares farm covered in 2010 and 2011 for development and multiplication of Saffron Corm production were comprised of barren land and everything was done without proper planning raising eyebrows.
The farmers have alleged that officials that were entrusted with this work and who supervised the task swindled huge chunk of money and thus looted the public wealth without getting trapped.
Pertinently, for the revival of saffron production in Jammu and Kashmir, the Central government had approved a plan of Rs 371.18 crore under National Saffron Mission Programme for four years which includes Rs 286.06 crore as government of India’s share and Rs 85.12 crore as farmers share. The main objective of the scheme was to extend support for creation of irrigation facilities through tube wells and sprinklers which would help better crop in the area.
Agriculture Minister, Ghulam Hassan Mir told CNS that last year due to lack of proper planning, saffron production decreased considerably. He however said that this year the production was good as the department adopted all the measures to boost up the production.
The Minister further said that all the allegations leveled with respect to Allowpora Farm are baseless and there is no truth in these allegations.