Horticulture Minister Narinder Bragta informs Himachal assembly that department requires Rs.400 crore to install anti-hail guns in the state to protect crops from vagaries of the weather.
The acetylene-fired anti-hail gun covers an aerial distance of around 80 to 100 hectares and the coverage area of the weather radar is 25 km. The guns send shock waves into the pressure areas where hail clouds are formed and puncture them, resulting in rain instead of the damaging hail.
The state has so far installed three guns along with a radar in Shimla district at an expenditure of Rs.2,89,19,000, he said adding that the guns have been successful in protecting the crop during the flowering and fruit-setting season from hailstorms.
The state horticulture department last year installed the guns, after procuring them from a US supplier, in Deorighat, Kathasu and Braionghat.
The cannons have been connected with the weather radar set up at Tumdoo, located at an altitude of 10,000 feet near Kharapathar. According to the department’s estimates, hailstorms damage 20-30 percent of vegetable and fruit crops in the state every year. The department claims that the state has suffered a fruit crop loss of Rs.900 crore due to hailstorms in the past three years. This year, the crop was badly damaged in the Kothgarh-Thanedar apple belt in Shimla district, the prominent apple belt in the state.