Shimla: Accusing the State Government for plight of the apple farmers, Congress has demanded the stepping down of Horticulture Minister Mahinder Singh Thakur.

Addressing media persons here on Wednesday, Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee, President Kuldeep Singh Rathore charging the state government of having failed to protect the interest of the apple farmers, and demanded to save the farmers from the loot by Adani Group.

Blaming Adani Group responsible for arbitrarily reducing the price of apples for procurement, which influences the Rs 5000 crore apple market, he said that the prices of apples have been reduced by Rs 16 per kg this year as compared to last year.

“Today the cost incurred for one box is around Rs. 450 to Rs 500 rupees, while it is selling for around Rs 600 in the market,” he claimed.

He demanded intervention of the state government, as the farmers are completely disappointed by the low prices for their produce.

Rathore sought to know whether the government was waiting for the worst when the farmers in the state will commit suicide like their counterparts in other states.

“Today the farmers are facing the brunt of three new agricultural laws,” he said, adding that since 1984, the government used to give subsidies on insecticides, fungicides and other medicines along with agricultural equipments in the state, but now unfortunately the BJP government has stopped all such reliefs. 

Covid -19 and unexpected snowfall in the month of May has already broken the backbone of small farmers of the state and the farmers are completely disappointed as they did not get any relief from the government.

Rathore said that he had also met the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur regarding suitable compensation to the farmers, however, neither the Chief Minister nor the horticulture minister made any visit to the affected areas.

“Farmers were hoping to get a better price this year but this too did not happen,” he lamented.

Congress is not going to remain silent on the problems and the exploitation of the farmers, he said.

Alleging the connivance of the government, he said that corporate groups like Adani and Ambani have full protection of the government.

“If the state government fails to pay heed to the demands, we will be forced to launch an agitation,” he cautioned.