Parala Fruit Market Yard in Himachal Faces Financial Constraints

Chief Minister Dhumal seeks central funding for the ambitious project announced with much fanfare

Shimla: Financial constraints have come in the way for setting up a modern agriculture marketing yard proposed at Parala in Theog forcing the state government to look for central funding of the project under ‘terminal markets complex’ scheme.

Chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal on Friday said, ‘the state has urged Sharad Pawar, union agriculture minister, to approve the proposed Parala terminal agriculture market so that farmers could get quality infrastructure where they could sell their produce at remunerative prices.”

To pacify an agitated apple growers lobby, the chief minister had announced sanctioning of Rs 20 crore for setting up a Rs 100 crore state of the art agri-market at Parala, the foundation stone for which was laid in 22 November.

The farmers were bitter about problems encountered in marketing the bumper fruit harvest between August and October as long traffic jams and lack of market access ran up losses in selling the produce.

Announcing plans for setting up of the new market, Dhumal on the occasion had said that the proposed marketing complex would have the capacity to handle 2 lakh metric tons of fruit and 1.5 lakhs metric tons of vegetables. With an additional expenditure of Rs 100 crore, this market is proposed to be provided with a 86.5 Km dedicated road for having unhindered access to other terminal markets in the country.

With the project facing funding constraints, Prakash Thakur, director APEDA said, “the government should be more discreet in announcing such critical infrastructure project related to farm sector.”

“Without having tied up finances for setting up the market, it will be a while before the complex will come up,” he said.

Thakur, who has been instrumental in securing funds to the tune of Rs 12 crore for upgrading three decade old cold storages and grading and packing houses said, the marketing infrastructure was acutely deficient in the state.

For improving productivity the government is rolling out a Rs 300 crore project, for apple rejuvenation another Rs 85 crore project is there but there is nothing for technology upgradation, post harvest management or marketing operations , he said.

With the state finances reeling under a heavy debt burden and the government unable to meet out employee pay hike arrears, the chief minister has put the proposal before the central government.

With the state producing 8 lakh tons of fruit and 12 lakh tons of vegetables annually and agriculture being the livelihood mainstay for the majority of the people, Dhumal says, “It would be in the best interest of the farming community if the proposed marketing yard was approved by the central government under ‘Terminal Markets Complex (TMC) Scheme to benefit the fruit growers and strengthen the states rural economy.”

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