Anti-hail guns silent as hail pounds Himachal apple orchards

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.

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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11 Comments

  1. says: akshay

    well here in india we peoples without doing the ground research we implement any plan to make fool out of general public and biggest ring masters are our politician which in majority are not literate enough to understand the basics. i have lived in russia for 7 years so i have something to compare with .in 1980 Olympics took place in moscow and there were also a bad weather forcast before indian hocky match . Russian govt, asked the airforce jets clear of the sky. the jets performed there duty and weather was perfect .and today we in 2011 and we still struggling with a GUN. and the clarification is given that power was not available. can’t the managing peoples think straight that these guns are kept to use in bad weather an during bad weather power supply is hampered usually .i am hearing about these guns from last year and i think its another way of digesting the tax payers money.

  2. says: Sandeep

    World Meteorological Organisation states “Anti-hail activities using cannons to produce loud noises (acoustic waves) have neither scientific basis nor credible physical hypotheses.” ( WMO document on Weather modification, update in the meeting of the Expert Team on Weather Modification Research, Abu Dhabi, 22-24 March, 2010. I can’t understand why these Guns are being so hyped. People are being kept in dark about the efficacy of this device. Instead Govt. should provide hail nets on subsidy to the apple growers. This Govt. is digressing from the main issue i.e. the bad condition of roads in the apple belt, collapse of administrative machinery during the apple season and sale of Gumma carton factory. I am stunned that media is a mute spectator at a time when people of upper shimla are living a compromised life.

  3. says: Ashok dhanta

    Deployment of anti hail gun by bjp govt is like a drop in oscen. It triggers anger among frustrated darcherist of jubbal kotkhai.

  4. says: Rominder Dhaulta

    We Indians are in a habbit to crticise those who think differently and think out of the box.People who challenge convention are most of the time cricised by those who never do anything. The same has happened in case of Anti hail guns in Jubbal Kotkhai. Mr. Bragta thought out of the box and installed Anti hail guns to prevent Apple orchards from the wrath of hails,though the project is in experimental stage it may have certain initial kick backs till the time it is fully established. I have one question for the critics that what has the previous Government done in the last 50 years to protect apple orchards from hails.It is easy to cricise than to do something. let us be a sport and appreciate the effort of the present Government and instead come up and boost the present government to install more anti hail guns.
    Lets us keep politics out and development in.. than only we will prosper.

    1. says: Dharmesh

      Mr.Dhaulta,
      This is not the question of criticising or appreciating.Before launching any project,poloiticians should know about its outcome as the money they are spending on it is public money.can u tell me ,in how many countries this technology is commercially exploited.we indians use the technology thrown/kicked by others.I am damn sure,this technology may not work owing to our topography and regional variation in weather.Our HP govt is already providing crores of subsidies to the apple growers since long back and is benefitting mostly rich people which otherwise should not get it.

      1. says: Rominder Dhaulta

        Its very well clear that it s a pilot project…. lessons are to be taken how to improve on it..From here we should move ahead not backward..

  5. says: RKS

    @ Rominder
    I am unable to understand the word ‘kickbacks’ used in your comment. But it reminds me of Bofors Gun and the related kickbacks. Here the matter also pertains to another Gun so the word might have some meaning.
    That was in light mood.
    All that we need to explore is the scientific information about this instrument and the current stage of application across the countries. I hope someone write about it or else I will work on it after few days.

    1. says: Rominder Dhaulta

      @RKS
      Please do have a research on it and let us also know about it,rather than understanding the meaning of kickbacks(just Joking).

  6. says: Dr. Devendra

    I completely agree with you Mr Dharmesh, RKS and Mr. Sandeep. This over hyped technology was rejected in Scandinavian countries, Canada and even in China.The concept got partial success in Newzealand as it suited to topography, slope and relief of the country. Slope and relief plays crucial role in the formation of weather conditions, and topography of whole Himalayas is highly uneven, so is the weather. Noise pollution by these guns may cause health hazards and shock waves triggered due to these guns may damage strata beneath….im sure.

  7. Comment by a reader who did not want to be identified…….

    I read this today: http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/apple-growers-shocked-as-anti-hail-guns-fail-in-shimla/409138.html

    It might be of entertainment for your readers to know that the entire business of hail-guns is a scam from start to finish. The history of the hail guns can be found on the net. It is completely bogus nonsense. The Austrian government spent a good deal of time investigating the matter and conclusively proved that there is no effect from hail guns what-so-ever. I did a little investigation when the HP government was buying hail-guns from NZ. It was all done through a cousin of the minister in Auckland. A very dubious deal indeed. They paid something like Rs 4 crore for a set of machines worth something like 60 K NZ$ (About Rs 30 lakhs @ 45 INR to 1 NZ$). Complete scam.

    Naturally the growers are finding out that they are fools. Not something they will be pleased to learn, but bitter facts are simply facts.

    A short looking up of hail guns on the net provides masses of material. It is a complete hoax.

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