Union Minister of Commerce Industry and Textiles Anand Sharma received a rousing welcome in Palampur. Thousands of people turned up to welcome him at the Gaggal Airport and in Palampur. 51 gates were erected on the way to welcome him and hundreds of congress supporters were present welcoming him on every gate. Elated with the welcome, Anand Sharma said that was the biggest welcome he has ever had.
Anand Sharma lays Foundation Stone of the Regional Office of Tea Board at Palampur and while addressing the congress workers, Anand Sharma has envisaged a ten-fold increase in tea production in Himachal Pradesh. He has also outlined various steps to revive famous Kangra Tea. Sharma retreated that “given our commitment for the rejuvenation of the abandoned area under tea cultivation, the Tea Board has sanctioned a project to the State Government for baseline survey of the abandoned area under tea cultivation and another research project for revival of Kangra tea and its organic farming to the HP Krishi Vidhyalaya. The project envisages enhancement in production up to ten times from the current production figures of 1 million kgs per year to 10 million kgs over the next decade in a phased manner.” The potential of Kangra Tea and the rationale for its rejuvenation may be deduced from the fact that Kangra tea has obtained a Geographical Indicator similar to the Darjeeling Tea.
The Minister pointed out that the Tea Board has been directed to submit a detailed project under Market Assistance Scheme MAI for marketing Kangra Tea in the international markets. Establishment of a Tea Museum in the premises of the Himalayan Bioresource Technology Institute at Palampur with GOI assistance of approximately Rs 1 crore is also on the anvil. Tea Board has also formulated several support measures for assisting the tea growers by way of financial incentives for uprooting and replanting of old and uneconomic areas, creation of irrigation facilities, purchase of transportation vehicles, modernization of processing factories, value addition, packaging-blending, quality assurance, organic certifications besides large scale handholding for marketing through prominent displays in various international fairs and festivals.
Besides Plantation, the establishment of Agri Export Zone For Apples covering apple growing regions of Shimla, Sirmour, Kullu, Mandi, Chamba and Kinnaur along with the imposition of 50% import duty have given an impetus to apple exports in the international market, fetching remunerative prices for the farmers of the State. “Common Infrastructure Facilities under APEDA in the form of 10 Pack Houses and Cold Storages for apples, juices and vegetables across the State with 75% Central assistance has enabled Himachal to emerge as a front runner in agro processing with well institutionalized forward and backward linkages” said the Minister.
On the textiles front Sharma said that Comprehensive Handloom Package is expected to benefit over 13458 weavers, 5578 looms and 193 cooperative societies in Himachal Pradesh. Furthermore, A Cluster Development Centre for Silk rearing and post harvest activity including skill enhancement has recently been sanctioned for 6 blocks of Hamirpur and Mandi and is expected to benefit at least 1000 persons. Under the various schemes of the Wool Development Board encouragement is being given to rabbit rearing and Angoora wool development programs. A Wool Weaving and Designing Centre have been set up at Kullu for Skills Training and its capacity is expected to be enhanced during the 12th Five Year Plan. “If the State or the Industry partners with the Government we would be happy to establish 5 new Apparel Design and Training Centres for skills training in the apparel sector to train 10,000 persons with 75% of the cost of the training initiatives” announced the Minister.
Anand Sharma also targets Himachal Govt for slow pace of development and also criticised Govt allegation against Center Govt for funds. He said that center Govt has provided enough funds for State and Govt allegation is false. He said that in last four years, BJP led Govt has done nothing and as assembly election are near they are just trying to mislead people.
Sharma also praises Kaul Singh work and congratulate him for uniting party from the grass root level. Like GS Bali, Anand Sharma also rejected the differences in Congress and said that every Congress worker is toiling hard to get party back in state. GS Bali, Brij Bihari Butail, Kaul Singh Thakur, Kuldeep Singh Rathore and Youth Congress leader Raghubir Singh Bali also addressed the rally and urged workers to unite for the assembly election.
Congress Legislator G S Bali, PCC Chief Kaul Singh Thakur, Asha Kumari, Viplove Thakur, Kuldeep Singh Rathore, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, Ajay Mahajan, Brij Bihari Butail, Rakesh Kalia, Ram Chaudhary, Youth Congress Leader Raghubir Singh Bali, Aashish Butail, Munish Thakur, Balvinder Thakur, Prem Dogra, Vinay Hetta and many other Party workers attended rally.