Massive hailstorm destroys crops and wreaks havoc in parts of Kashmir

Srinagar, April 25: High-speed winds followed by a hailstorm on Monday caused massive damage to apple, almond, walnut and cherry orchards, as well as standing crops, vegetables and young paddy shoots in various parts of the Kashmir valley.

Reports say the massive hailstorm has wreaked havoc in many parts of Kashmir especially in Kulgam, Baramulla, Tangmarg, Pattan and Handwara’s Mawer regions.

According to officials from the Department of Horticulture, the hailstorm has largely affected areas like Pattan, Tangmarg, Kulgam, Baramulla and Mawer, Handwara damaging orchards and standing crops.

According to reports, the hailstorm started around 5:30 p.m. in the Mawer villages of Lawoosa, Yahama, Mawer Bala, Sanzipora, Lach, Audoora, Chontipora and Drangsoo Shahnagri and neighboring villages.

Expressing their grief and helplessness, farmers in these areas said they had invested huge sums of money to sow high-yielding vegetable seeds, but the hailstorm destroyed their entire crop.

Speaking to Rising Kashmir, apple orchard owners said they suffered massive losses due to damage to their fruit.

Affected farmers said: “A high-intensity hailstorm, stormy winds and heavy rain destroyed almost the entire apple crop in at least a dozen villages, with fears it may have caused the loss of millions of rupees.

Arborists in some of the hardest-hit areas believe their almond, cherry and apple crops have suffered irreparable damage from these cyclical hailstorms.

Eyewitnesses said the hailstorm was accompanied by gusts of wind that lasted about six minutes.

The most affected villagers in Pattan and Tangmarg said, “This is the second time this season that we have suffered huge damage due to a natural calamity.

“The administration must come to the aid of the affected people by announcing packages,” said Lateef Ahmad Bhat of Shirpora Pattan.

Meanwhile, the affected farmers have urged Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to order the relevant department to visit these areas to assess the loss and compensate the farmers, saying hailstorms have destroyed their crops for the fourth consecutive year.

Speaking to Rising Kashmir, Kashmir Horticulture Director General Aijaz Ahmad Bhat confirmed the damage to orchards and other crops in the valley.

He added that he would visit these areas in the coming days to assess the damage.

“The Mawer area suffered 20-25% damage, while other areas like Kulgam, Baramulla and Tangmarg suffered around 30-40% damage,” the DG said.

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