Shimla: Apple growing in high reaches of Lahaul and Spiti district may be an outcome of shifting weather patterns, but the Himachal Pradesh government wants to make the most out of it and has started encouraging more apple plantations in the tribal district under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA).
Over 37,350 apple plants have already been planted in the district and in the current financial year, taking up the activity on a large scale, the rural development department in association with horticulture department has set a target of 1,25,000 plants this year. Rural development and panchayati raj minister Jai Ram Thakur, while replying to a question in the assembly, said that last year 470 families had benefited from plantations taken up on private land under MNREGA.
“Looking at the short working season in Lahaul and Spiti district, which remains cut off due to snow for major part of the year, the plantation scheme was improvised to generate more employment and is doing very well,” said Jai Ram Thakur. The minister informed the House that of the 6,227 households in the district, 4,902 job cards were issued, but employment could be given to only 82 persons till February, 2010, as the working season is too short in the area.