Some NGOs that have been working on different social and developmental issues in the Chenab valley region have strongly criticised the functioning of horticultural department, Doda. Members of Development Front have claimed that Kisan Mela-cum-Horticulture Expo organised in Doda was merely a formality, where people, particularly elderly and youth from the remote areas of the district, were hired on daily basis.
Ghulam Mohammad from Halla village said, "I have visited the horticulture office on several occasions for plants, barbed wire and to get benefits of other state and centrally-sponsored schemes, but every time officials expressed helplessness due to non-availability of funds."
Another villager, Hoshiyar Singh said, "We have been demanding for holding of awareness camps in different villages besides other incentives to orchid growers, but the employees seem to be least bothered. They are interested in holding camps in areas where horticulture potential is very less."
He alleged that employees of the department prefer to organise these camps as per their will and some programmes are shown only on paper and fake bills are drawn against those fraudulent works.
Ghulam Ali, a resident of Batkhandi, said promotion of horticulture and other allied activities in the district are only tall claims of the department, but the reality is quite different. "Several varieties of fruits were not displayed during the mela," he claimed.
Meanwhile, speaking at the mela, Doda ADDC GN Balwan said the area has huge potential for horticulture as most population lives in hilly and rural areas, which are suitable for the cultivation of fruits. He asked fruit growers of the district to adopt a scientific approach and plant high-yielding varieties for better economic benefits.
However, fruit growers alleged that they are not getting any kind of awareness and latest techniques from the department to boost horticulture activities in the region.