Himachal CPI(M) threatens to agitate over apple growers woes

Shimla: Holding that the state government was indifferent toward problems being faced by apple growers, Communist Party of India (Marxists) today threatened to launch a mass agitation, should the government not act within a week to improve the road network and regulate post-harvest operations.

Speaking to the media persons, Sanjay Chauhan, state committee member CPI(M) said that there was complete chaos in the marketing operations during peak apple season time as black marketing was being resorted to by suppliers of packaging material.

Shortage of transport vehicles was not being met and hapless small and marginal farmers were having to pay stiff freight charges that were 50 to 100 % higher than the freights announced by the government, he said.

Due to breakdown of rural road network in Chopal region, there were over 30,000 boxes awaiting transport facility to access the market, he claimed.

Kuldeep Tanwar, State Secretariat Member CPI(M) said the government had abdicated its regulatory role and the farmers were facing the brunt.

“The government needs to treat the situation as an emergency as the years livelihood of about 3 lakh farmers was dependent up apple crop,” he said.

Recalling an earlier agitation in 1992, when 3 apple growers had died in police firing, Tikender Panwar, member secretary said, “unless the government acts within a week’s time, CPI(M) would be forced to launch a mass agitation.”

2.25 Crore apple boxes marketed – HP Govt

However, the government has contested the protests being made over shortcomings pointed out by saying that in the midst of a heavy monsoon, a record number of 1.55 crore apples boxes have been marketed during the month of August.

Overall the government claims that over 2.25 crore boxes during the current harvest have been marketed.

Expecting the fruit crops to break previous records, a government communiqué stated that apple production in last three years was 2.67 crore boxes in 2007-08, 2.30 crore boxes in 2008-09 and 1.26 crore boxes in 2009-10.

This had been possible due to proper and adequate arrangements made by the State Government for the apple season, the communiqué stated.

Photo credit: Amit Kanwar

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

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7 Comments

  1. says: Rajneesh Sharma

    Baithey Baithey Thak Gaye…Karna tha kuch Rajnaitik Kaam…Organise karo press release.. leke Apple growers ka Nam ..lols

    By the way, this season is almost done with tons of woes ..had it been observed beforehand by any party. . be it Congress, BJP or Communists…things would have been little better !

    —————————
    “Recalling an earlier agitation in 1992, when 3 apple growers had died in police firing, Tikender Panwar, member secretary said, “unless the government acts within a week’s time, CPI(M) would be forced to launch a mass agitation.”
    —————————

    “It would have been better if leaders would have worked for better solutions beforehand and had organised a rally two months before peak apple season…the roads were same two months ago too…rather than trying to agitate public and seeing an entry point for sympathizing … To create more Martyrs” ..

    leaders are — “Who Are Able To See Problems Beforehand”…Not the ones who show “Retrospective Wisdom Afterwards..Which is Worthless”

  2. says: Anil Chandel

    This is another story that is turning out to be a saga of claims and counter-claims. At its center are the Apple growers who claim to having faced with numerous problems in marketing their produce, this year.

    The alleged problems range from bad roads, to non-availability of adequate transportation, to overcharging on per carton transportation costs, to exploitation at the hands of arhtiyas all the way to mandis in Delhi, to name a few.

    The interesting thing in all this is the present HP government’s responses (or lack thereof) to some of the problems:

    1) Bad Roads: Blame it on heavy monsoon this year. According to PWD Minister, Mr. Gulab Singh Thakur, damage to Himachal roads could cost Rs 332 Crore. Released 10 Crore to PWD to restore connectivity on priority in the apple belt.

    TOO LITTLE TOO LATE. Where is the PWD’s preparedness for the monsoon season and apple produce rush? These two factors are given, year after year!

    2) Non-availability of adequate transportation: Goes back to bad roads and lack of willingness on the part of truck operators to venture into the area. The roads in the apple belt are risky enough on good days due to the topography of the area.

    3) Overcharging on per carton cost of transportation: I haven’t seen any response to that claim.

    4) Exploitation at the hands of arhtiyas: Yes, HP Govt has taken steps and there is already a court directlve in favor of Himachali producers in this regard.

    Himachal CM, Prof. Dhumal’s arguments go beyond heavy monsoons. According to him, its also the record apple produce this year due to steps taken by the Govt to benefit apple farmers.

    Which may be true, but wasn’t that all the more reason to be better prepared for the bumper crop, this year?

    The CM also cited that about 2 Crore apple cartons had already reached various markets and blamed the opposition leaders for “politicising” the issue.

    What does he really mean by that? The opposition leaders are also political leaders, just like the leaders in the ruling parties are. Its their job to highlight issues and continue to do so, until those are fixed.

    Is he saying that the issues aren’t as grave as are being made out to be? Or the issues do not exist altogether, anymore?

    This seems like a lame excuse for non-performance on the part of our government, especially in dealing with the monsoons and apple season this year.

    Instead of claiming that the issue had been politicised, or making populist statements about the govt’s accomplishments, providing details on the steps taken or underway to alleviate these issues, would have helped a great deal, in highlighting govt’s response to the alleged problems.

    Though late, only the PWD minister provided solid detail on govt’s response to the issue of bad roads. I am not sure, as to how effective this last minute fix turned out to be for the apple growers, but at least something was done to restore or maintain road connectivity in those areas.

  3. says: Amar Singh

    Today’s newspapers carry the statement of our horticulture minister that adequate packing material of apples are being provided to the growers by the HPMC on competitive rates.This is totally false. I inquired personally from the HPMC at Jarol-Tikker as well as from a private packing house owner, who stated that no trays were available with them as well as in the open market hence it was not possible to accept apples for grading/packing. On inquiry from the hpmc official, when the trays were expected to come, he showed ignorance.This is the ground reality. What to speak of supplying packing material to growers, the HPMC does not have it for their own use in their packing house which is lying idle for want of trays.Due to this reason, they are not issuing empty field boxes to growers as it would pile up in their godown since nearly 4000 field boxes are already held up for want of trays.The chief minister had also issued statement from Hamirpur that all was fine with the apple growers but the opposition Congress was making unnecessary fuss to gain political mileage. One BJP legislature had even stated that there were other issues with the government and not only one issue of apple growers. Regarding the traffic jams due to poor maintenance of roads by the PWD, she had stated that the traffic jams were the sign of prosperity.
    So far as export of 2.25 crore apple boxes to the market,the govt need not take credit because the growers have sent it by paying twice/thrice fare in order to save their crop from rotting.

    1. says: Rajneesh Sharma

      Mr. Amar,
      Our leaders in power make everything look fine in press statements…

      For real problems..they make public feel “All is Well” and when get out of power.. same leaders … Try to create terrible stories for trivia issues..What a democracy ..lols Right to fool people..this way or that way..anyway by the way.. 😉

      Regarding a leaders statement that “Traffic Jams are signs of prosperity”….lols.. i would request that leader to have personal home and office shifted besides Bilaspur – Kiratpur Highway..so that ..monstrous sounds & notorious traffic chaos of cement leaden trucks can entertain above said leader with glimpses of prosperous life ;)..

      What more can be expected from these leaders who have such great views..

      If traffic jams are symbolic to prosperous life …then we should ask our legislators to pass a resolution for legalizing traffic jams so that prosperity becomes easy..everyone who is not well to do with resources will get compensation from government for being trapped in Traffic Jam.. lols !

  4. says: ML.Verma

    If government is realy serious to tackle the worries of apple growers it should apply its mind to fight the problem in the its root rather than countering the opposition and agitation in the media. The government machinery still have time to be keep away from media statement and rush to its respective fields crying fir its apathy. It is already late but half of the crop might be saved if its functionary is little to save its face in the people in coming time. Hope the wisdom would prevail beleaguered authority rather they have to be ashamed for it in visiting the people at their door step who would noway leave them spare for outcome. The Apple is not fruit of middle and high hills but government should keep in mind that 2000 crore economy also pump about 1000 crore in the market which bring fluidity in the market. The prospect of it would have been better this season as the Apple other fruits and vegetable economy likely to be cross over Rs 3000 crore but government apathy and will to extract some thing would likely to dent the scope. Let hopes for better. The scarifies by peasantry in the field and else where is matter of pride for this class despite passing through opposite current. The move by the left should not be seen from political angle as everyone know they were not as eager for the credit as people fear. the gesture of CPI-M is with farmers later or sooner. The Apple production need to be increased more and more according to one survey only 20 percent people have access to apple as only 12 lakh tonnes apple being produce in half dozen northern state of this country compared to 120 lakh tones of China.

    Hope for better Apple price likely to rise in the market as top quality apple is there now.

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