Himachal Pradesh, the hilly state known for its docile and GOD fearing people and apples, is in a turmoil this year. Not that last year was any better, but this year has been a disaster. Disastrous year for the public in general and for the state as well. Why? Read on.
The state happens to be the largest apple producer. There are three areas famous for the world’s best apples, namely Kinnaur, Rohru and Kullu. I can not and will not comment on Kinnaur and Kullu as I have little knowledge of these areas, but Rohru I am very well conversant with and hence will comment on the conditions prevailing here.
Fact. The area falls under Shimla district and is the heart of the apple belt. There is nothing else being cultivated here other than apples, pears and other such fruits. Apple being the major bread earner.
Fact. In April 2010, it was known and was even published in the news papers that this year a bumper crop of apples was expected.
Fact. There are three routes to Shimla from Rohru. (a) Rohru – Tikkar – Narkanda – Shimla, (b) Rohru – Hatkoti – Khara Patthar – Chaila – Shimla and (c) Rohru – Sungri – Narkanda – Shimla. Other routes being Rohru – Khara Patthar – Chaila – Rajgarh – Solan – Chandigarh/Delhi and Rohru – Tuni -Pointa Saheb – Chandigarh/Delhi.
Fact. There is a control room been set up between Theog and Fagu which controls and forces all trucks to go via Shimla. And hence the Chaila – Solan protion has not been developed. And The Tuni – Pointa Saheb happen to be in other state, so only their vehicles can ply on this route. So the choice is between (a), (b) and (c).
Fact. This year over four crore boxes of apples were expected to be sent out of Himachal. That is almost double of what was sent out last year.
Fact. Since 2005 the road from Theog – Khara Pathar – Rohru is being widened to two lane road by a Chinese company. It has taken over five years and the road is all dug up and no metaling done for whatever reasons. A patch of about 120 km is knee deep of slush with landslides all over due to heavy rains.
Fact. Due to the fact above, major traffic was diverted to the Rohru – Tikkar – Narkanda road. Although this was a road that never was blocked or suffered from landslides but it could not take the load of the traffic that it had to take. And even this is knee deep slush now.
Fact. A big patch on the road (c), ie, Rohru – Sungri – Narkanda was in very bad shape and hence was being avoided by all.
Fact. Despite having known in April/May 2010 of a bumper crop, there is shortage of packing material, to include apple cartons, trays and other items. The suppliers and retailers are having a field day.
Fact. Due to bad roads, the truckers have doubled the rates. And there are no trucks as truck unions of neighbouring states have refused to send their trucks quoting the state of roads available in the area.
Fact. The rains have played a spoil sport this year, thus not permitting the apple growers to pluck, grade and dispatch the fruit.
Fact. There being only one crop of apple, pears etc in a year. The farmers have no idea of what they will do to survive till the next crop, if any, next year. In the mean time they have to feed their families, educate their children, pay for medical expenses and also cater to the necessary expenditure required to run/maintain the orchards.
And the government has done nothing to reduce the sufferings of the farmers other than give statements in the news papers that “all demands of the farmers have been met”.
It is not that the government is not aware of these facts, but it is not bothered at all about the state of farmers, their very own votes. The government is totally indifferent towards to suffering of farmers.
I very strongly feel that due to negligence and indifference of the government the present government should step down on moral grounds. I know that it will not. So, the public will ensure in the next elections, which are not very far away.