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Kashmir growers fear for their fruit in pilgrimage traffic jams

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  • Hundreds of thousands of people come through IOJK to visit shrine in Himalayan cave for Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage.
  • Security is tighter after Indian police claimed last week they had uncovered plot to attack pilgrims.
  • Fruit-laden trucks were stranded as security forces held up traffic to check for threats.

SRINAGAR: Fruit growers in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK) said on Monday they were facing huge losses as truck-loads of apples, pears and other produce got caught up in traffic jams caused by a security crackdown during an annual Hindu pilgrimage.

Hundreds of thousands of people come through the region to visit a shrine in a Himalayan cave for the Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage.

Numbers are even higher this year, as the event was shut down in 2021 during the pandemic — and security is tighter after police claimed last week they had uncovered a plot to attack pilgrims.

Fruit-laden trucks were stranded as security forces held up traffic to check for threats, Bashir Ahmad Basheer, from the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers and Dealers Union, told Reuters.

“Freshly harvested plums, peaches, pears and apples need to be transported outside Kashmir or else they may rot in this heat and we will face heavy losses,” he said.

An Indian forces official Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, acknowledged there was a problem and said the Indian government was working on plans to ease traffic.

“Trucks will only be stopped when pilgrims travel on the highway and trucks loaded with perishables won’t face any inconvenience,” he told reporters.

Indian soldiers carrying automatic assault rifles and wearing flak jackets have been out guarding roads since the Hindu pilgrimage began in the Muslim-majority region in June.

“Pilgrims are our guests but our trucks should not be stopped,” orchard owner Ghulam Mohammad Malik told Reuters.

He said farmers and traders would together face losses of 30 million Indian rupees ($380,000) per day if congestion did not ease.

Fruit cultivation is the backbone of Kashmir’s economy, and gives work to about 3 million people, according to the growers union.

During the pilgrimage, Hindus cross glaciers and waterlogged trails to reach the mountain cave which contains an ice stalagmite that is considered a physical manifestation of a Hindu god, Lord Shiva.

The cave is covered in snow for most of the year, but authorities let pilgrims visit it for 45 days over the summer as rising temperatures clear the passes.

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In Lahore, several unlawful constructions were dismantled

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In response to bylaw infractions, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) demolished a number of structures in Lahore.

An illicit workshop next to Hair Factory at Adda Plot on Raiwind Road was destroyed by the LDA crew.

Along Raiwind Road and in LDA-controlled areas close to Lahore Ring Road, a number of additional unlawful constructions were also removed.

In addition, a private school that had broken land use regulations was sealed.

Chief Town Planner II Azhar Ali led the operation with the assistance of the police, enforcement team, and heavy equipment.

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The expected increase in power tariff is Rs 7.13/unit.

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According to specifics, NEPRA will consider the appeal today, and a one-month power rate hike will result from a fuel price adjustment for energy used in January.

The CPPA filed the petition with the NEPRA, claiming that hydropower plants accounted for 11.12% of all electricity output in January, coal-fired plants for 16.51%, natural gas plants for 12.45%, and nuclear plants for 20.78%.

Prior to this, the monthly fuel adjustment (MFA) caused the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) to raise the power cost by Rs5.63 per unit.

Following the conclusion of the NEPRA hearing on the Central Power Purchasing Agency’s (CPPA) appeal for a fuel monthly adjustment that will increase the power rate by Rs5.63 per unit for December 2023, the verdict was made public.

The electricity users would bear an extra Rs49 billion in costs as a result of the permission. The customers’ power bills for the following month will include an extra payment.

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Promoting Mother Languages: Int’l Mother Language Day Being Observed Today

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All around the world, including Pakistan, today is International Mother Language Day. “Multilingual education is a pillar of intergenerational learning” is this year’s topic for the day.

Numerous events have been planned to honor the day and emphasize the value of Pakistan’s regional languages.

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