Shimla: The apple belt of Himachal Pradesh recently witnessed a heavy hailstorm and unusual snowfall that has destroyed the majority of apple and stone fruit crops. Demanding relief for fruits growers in such tough times, Chief Whip Narinder Bragta has written an eight-point suggestion letter to Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and has demanded immediate action from the government.

Bragta has demanded the state government to constitute a high-power committee under the chairmanship of a senior minister and Chief Secretary of Himachal Pradesh to review the loss caused the orchardists so that the Central Government can be made aware of the assessment report of the loss immediately.

He has also urged to constitute a team of Revenue Department and send them immediately to visit the affected areas to assess the loss caused due to recent snowfall and hailstorm. Furthermore, he has suggested the government to send the experts of Horticulture University and officials of Horticulture Department to the affected areas and instruct them to provide technical input to the orchardists to compensate the loss of the affected trees.

He has demanded the state government to take back its recent decision to ban the sales of spray chemicals through Horticulture Extension Centres and provide necessary medicines to the orchardists from Horticulture Department’s sales centres.

He has asked the state government to pay the pending subsidies on anti-hail nets, horticultural and agricultural equipments, release the pending payments of apple purchased by HPMC under Mandi Mediation Scheme, implement more useful technology of anti-hailnets under the policy plan as anti-hailnet users have suffered more losses and reconsider the decision of shifting the posts of Horticulture Extension Officers elsewhere.

Bragta has suggested that there is an urgent need to review the crop insurance scheme and the insurance amount to be deducted from KCC. He has urged the state government to direct the concerned Deputy Commissioners to hold talks with bank and insurance companies’ officials and immediately provide appropriate compensation to the orchardists.

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Navneet Rathore is a Shimla based journalist having two-years of experience in the field of journalism. Navneet is a post-graduate in Journalism and Mass Communications from Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla and is specialised in crime, education, health, environment, agriculture and Horticulture beats.