Rundown Road Conditions Worry Kullu Valley Apple Growers

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Manali: Rundown conditions of roads of Manali sub division following continuing rain, landslides and floods is giving restless nights to apple growers of the valley who have inadequate time to take their fruits from far-flung orchards to the fruit main fruit  markets.

The link and district roads are getting barren after spell of heavy rains. Cloudbursts and floods are washing away the roads. Landslides are scaring the truckers and adding to it labourers are not available for manual transportation of the yield. Main apple belt of  Manali valley is on left bank of the Beas river and the Kullu-Manali bypass road, which connects most parts of the apple belt, is in dilapidated condition. These days’ trucks carrying apple are forced to run on small narrow and wrecked roads putting lives in danger and causing traffic jams.

Landslide near Jagatsukh village in Kullu valley

Joginder rana , apple grower from karjan village of left bank manali, said: “Dozens of large trucks are ferrying our fruits to Delhi, Punjab and local markets. The road is very narrow at many places. The trucks, which are our need, are blocking the traffic for hours. Not only general public and tourists are having problem, the growers are worried for timely transportation of the fruit. The road between Naggar and Sarsei is not worth running vehicles. No government is worried about this.”

Raju, another grower from 15 mile, said their road recently experienced cloudburst and now landslide blocks is every week. “It’s peak apple harvesting season. Once the fruit is harvested, we want to take it to market as soon as possible to get better prices. The road is already in poor state and now rain is not favoring us. Fortunately we are getting rain during night time for last few days. Otherwise we had no time to harvest the fruit amid heavy rain.”

Fearing road blockades and many natural hurdles, many people sell their entire orchard on contract basis very cheap.. Sometime agents dupe growers by selling fruit at low prices on the pretext of blocking of the road. People in upper reaches of Manali valley who do not believe in road connectivity during monsoon mostly depend on manual transportation.

Kullu Fruit Growers Association president Rajgir Mahant said the fruit is undersize at some places and the prices for royal delicious, main apple variety, is average. “This time monsoon is good at most places. Some growers in remote areas connected by small link roads face some problem. There are many orchards which are not connected by road. We pray for pleasant weather in coming days so that all growers get good price for their produce,” he said.

Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice. He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express. With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology. Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.

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