Hailstorms cause severe damage to the apple crop

79

Hailstorms that have been lashing the Shimla region for the past few days, have had a debilitating effect on the region’s apple crop. According to estimates, most of the regions in Shimla’s apple belt have faced the fury of the storms, leading to a huge portion of the crop being destroyed. Ironically, even the anti-hail gun installed at Deorighat could do nothing to protect itself or the surrounding regions from the fury of the storm.

It was earlier assessed that this year’s apple output would be lower than the 4.46 crore boxes that had been produced last year. After this hailstorm, it appears the number will go down significantly. Teams dispatched by the Horticulture Department have assessed damage to the crop amounting to Rupees 248 crores, in the Shimla and Kinnaur belts alone. The worst hit regions are in Shimla district, with Jubbal-Kotkhai, Rohru, Chopal, Rampur, Sarahan, Theog and Narkanda taking most of the brunt.

It appears the apple belt of districts Kullu, Mandi and Sirmaur have remained unaffected by the storm.

Meanwhile, considering the apparent failure of anti-hail guns, the Congress party has demanded that the government provide subsidy for anti-hail nets. Party secretary Rohit Thakur said that the nets could be a much effective way to protect the crops. He pointed out that the National Horticulture Mission provided a 50% subsidy for the nets, which could be increased to 80% if the state government chipped in.