Shimla – The recent mandate by the Sukhu government of the Congress party to make universal cartons compulsory for apple purchases has caused widespread concern among apple growers and commission agents, according to statements by BJP leader Jairam Thakur.

Thakur criticized the government for implementing the new rule without adequate preparation, just as the apple season is beginning. He highlighted that many apple growers had already invested in telescopic cartons, which are now rendered useless due to the sudden policy change. “Thousands of telescopic cartons are lying with apple growers, costing them lakhs of rupees,” Thakur remarked. He urged the government to buy back these telescopic cartons and provide proper compensation to the apple growers to alleviate their financial burden.

Apple growers are facing difficulties obtaining universal cartons, which are now mandatory for transporting their produce to the mandis (markets). Commission agents are refusing to purchase apples delivered in telescopic cartons, leaving apple growers unable to sell their produce and incurring additional costs to bring it back from the markets. Thakur emphasized the lack of clear rules and alternative arrangements, leading to distress for both apple growers and commission agents. “The government should provide high-quality universal cartons at a reasonable price,” he demanded.

Thakur also accused the Congress government of having a consistently neglectful attitude towards apple growers. He cited last season’s issues when the government mandated apple purchases by weight but failed to provide weighing machines at the mandis, causing chaos and refusals from commission agents to accept the apples. Apple growers struggled with rented carts in the mandis while the government offered only statements instead of solutions.

“The government’s habit of making rules without proper consideration and preparation is the root cause of these issues,” Thakur said. He criticized the government for not honouring its pre-election promises to apple growers, including allowing them to set the prices for their produce. Thakur called on the government to fulfil its guarantees to the apple growers and to implement policies that consider the practical challenges faced by those in the industry.