Hilly states to press for constitution of Trans Himalayan Authority

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Shimla, Jun 12 (UNI) The first ever conference of Horticulture ministers of hill states concluded here today with a call for constitution of Trans Himalayan development Authority and raise the problems and issues peculiar to hilly areas and different norms for these states under various centrally sponsored schemes.

Brief the mediapersons about the deliberations, Himachal Horticulture Minister Narinder Bragata said that the conclave urged the Union Government to include Horticulture and Animal Husbandry under the farmer's loan waiver scheme, provide a special package for expansion of road and Rail connectivity to Himalayan states and extend crop insurance scheme to apple and other fruits.

The conference expressed concern that same norms were being applied to both the Himalayan states and other areas, ignoring the ground realities and difficult topography of hilly areas resulting in perpetual discrimination against these states.

The conference also discussed the issue of fleecing of fruit growers from hill states at Delhi Fruit Market by commission agents and a committee was formed under the chairmanship of Narinder Bragata as chairmen and ministers of other hill states as member to take the issue afresh with Delhi Chief minister Sheila Dixit.

The Commission agents were charging commission from the growers inspite of the fact that the Delhi Marketing Board Act had been amended, providing that the commission would charged from buyers, he said.

The conference demanded raising of ceiling for financial assistance under the Horticulture Technology Mission and payment of subsidy to the growers under different schemes at the time of launching of the scheme and not after the completion of the project as was being done at present, he said.

It pointed out that payment of back-hand subsidy to fruit growers was not helping them in real sense and observed that several growers keen to construct Controlled Atmosphere Storages (CAS) could not avail the benefit of 33 per cent subsidy as the cost of 1000 mt CAS worked out at about Rs 1 crore, difficult for an ordinary grower to venture into such projects.

The Horticulture ministers also demanded transport subsidy for carrying fruit produce to terminal markets and various horticultural inputs to the fruit growing areas and providing facilities for establishing cold chain to keep the fruit fresh for marketing.

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