The Horticulture department has decided to install Global Positioning Systems (GPS) for monitoring of trucks ferrying apple produce. Identity cards would also be issued to the truck drivers. The move is expected to curb theft incidents.

In a high level meeting presided by Vidya Stokes, Horticulture Minister granted permission to go ahead with the plan. Earlier, last year the State Government had implemented the system for the first time in Shimla district during last apple season on pilot basis which deemed successful.

In the meeting, Stokes claimed making elaborate arrangements for smooth transportation of apple to the markets and timely availability of packing material to the growers.

Stokes said that State Government had recently notified weight of apple boxes/ cartons of different sizes. As per the amended provisions in the Himachal Pradesh Agricultural and Horticulture Produce Marketing (Development and Regulations) Amendment Ordinance, 2014 apple cartons were not to weigh more than 22.5 kg and 11 kg when being transported for sale/auction in the yards of HP Marketing Board of the State or outside the State.

Minister said that this provision has been made on the demand of growers and to avoid exploitation of the farmers in the hands of middlemen. She directed all the implementing agencies to enforce these provisions and take strict action against the violators. She also directed police administration to assist Excise and Taxation Department and APMC in implementing the new packaging laws. She said that barrier would be set up at Tippa near Parwanoo in Solan district to check the specified weight of boxes.

Stokes said that State Government was serious towards the problems of the horticulturists and special arrangements had been made for their convenience so that they do not face any difficulty for marketing their produce. She said that adequate arrangements had been made for the availability of sufficient quantity of quality cartons at reasonable rates to the growers and district administration had been asked to check its profiteering and hoarding.

Horticulture Minister asked the Public Works Department to undertake maintenance of the roads and make all necessary arrangements during the season so that people do not face any difficulty. She directed the PWD officials to make sufficient arrangement of men and machinery at identified places to avoid any inconvenience because of roads blockade. She also directed to deploy sufficient police personnel to regulate traffic.

Deputy Commissioners, Superintendents of Police of apple growing districts and senior officers of Horticulture, HIMFED, APMC, HPMC, PWD were also present in the meeting.