Shimla (Jun 6): Himachal Pradesh Apple Growers Association (HPAGA) today protested at about 22 apple-growing centres in the state to highlight the state government’s indifference towards their problems.
Terming the protest as massive, co-convener of HPAGA Dr Onkar Shad said that demonstrations were held in Narkanda, Rohru, Chirgaon, Nirmand, Theog, Kotkhai, Rampur, Anni, Karsog, Jhanjheli, Balichowki, Banjar, Sainj, Manali, Shimla and in several other parts of the state.
At Narkanda the protest demonstration was led by Rakesh Singha, the state convener of the organization. Kuldeep Singh Tanwar and Sanjay Chauhan led the demonstration at Theog, Pratap Thakur led in Anni, Hottam in Manali, Ram Lal Thakur in Karsog, Puran Thakur in Nirmand, and Sukhdev Negi in Rohru.
In Shimla the protest was organized outside the DC’s office and was addressed by several speakers of the organization. Later a memorandum with 10 demands was submitted to the DC, addressed to the chief minister of the state.
“The ruinous policies of the successive governments have severely affected the sustainability of this chief crop of the state. The neo-liberal policies have led to a state where the government has almost withdrawn from investing in the agriculture and horticulture sector. With several free trade agreements being signed, the customs duty on foreign apples has been reduced from 45 to 35 % and efforts are on to remove it completely. This effects the relative market of apple from Himachal and abroad. Further the state-led support system has also collapsed. The relief in the form of subsidized cartons from Gumma has been closed. Such variables have increased the cost of apple production in a meteoric fashion,” the memorandum stated.
HPAGA has further decided to intensify the agitation and on 30thof June widespread protest rallies will be held in different parts of the state to force the government to accept the demands of apple growers.