Farmers demand compensation for hail losses
Shimla: With the Rs 3.29 crore anti hail gun installed under a pilot project failing to fire and thwart damage to apple crop in the Jubbal-Kothkai belt, the government has come in for severe criticism from opposition congress and farmers organizations.
Questioning the efficacy of the project that was supposed to dismember hail forming clouds before they could cause any damage, Sanjay Chauhan, general secretary of Himachal Kishan Sabha (HKS) has termed the gun to be a gimmick that has befooled the apple growers who have been made to suffer extensive damages.
“Whosoever is responsible for keeping the farmers in the dark about the efficacy of the anti-hail gun should own accountability and should tender his resignation,” said Chauhan.
Only last week, horticulture minister Narinder Bragta, who represents Jubbal Kothkai in the assembly, had claimed the experiment to have been successful, when they were test fired.
However, apple orchard owners who had come to believe the government claims were in for a rude shock yesterday afternoon when the region was engulfed by dark clouds and they began to rain hail pellets damaging orchards in bloom across many areas of Jubbal, Kothkai, Theog, Mathiana, Baghi, Narkanda, Ani and other fruit growing areas.
Three booming guns located on different hills are coordinated by controlling weather station radar located at Kharapattar. When a computer synchronized weather station indicates parameters for hail formation, these guns with a loud bang fire a gas into the clouds that starts a chain reaction and is supposed to convert hail into rain to prevent crop damages.
Ironically personnel managing the control room of the anti-hail gun operations are said to be blaming yesterdays frequent power failures as the reason for the guns going silent when their need was most felt as there was no backup generator to ensure uninterrupted power supply to keep the gadgetry working.
Meanwhile farmers are counting their losses as they had not installed the traditional anti-hail nets to protect their crops.
Besides HKS, opposition congress have asked for immediate assessment of the crop damage, changes in the relief manual and due compensation for the losses incurred.
Congress spokesman Kuldeep Rathore said that the project had turned out to be just a show piece as the losses amounted to several crores.
The government is solely to blame for it propagated the myth that the gun had successfully test fired and did not caution the farmers to stick to traditional measures till the experiment could prove successful, he said.