HP seeks Rs 27 cr from Centre for setting hail control system

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Shimla, Jul 1 (UNI) The Himachal Pradesh Government has sought a sum of Rs 27 crore from the Centre for the setting up of a hail control system in the fruit-growing belt of Shimla, Kullu, Mandi and Chamba districts of the state.

"Since the fruit growing areas of these districts are hail prone, it is necessary to set up hail control system in these areas," he told Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar at New Delhi.

He said the state government proposes to set up four hail control systems comprising of 40 anti hail guns/cannons with four radar systems for covering 4,000 hectare fruit/vegetable growing area of the state.

The setting of this system would help the state save a sum of Rs 45.92 crore per year, he added.

Mr Bragta said Himachal records total 64,000 million tonne (MT) apple production from 4,000 hectare area annually and on an average, about 9,000 MT produce was lost due to hail stones, estimated to be Rs 20.50 crore per year.

An estimated 35 per cent fruit produce, about 22,450 MT of the produce was lost due to hail storm, causing a loss of Rs 25.42 crore.

The Horticulture Minister said during 2007-2008, fruit and crop worth Rs 105.37 crore was destroyed due to hailstorm in the state, adding that it had already suffered loss of Rs 228.1 crore to apple and other fruits due to hailstones during the present year.

The Union Agriculture Minister was told that anti hail nets were being used in the state for protecting cash crops for the last three decades and the installation and removal of the nets was very labour intensive due to tough geographical and topographical conditions.

Besides, small and marginal farmers were not using such nets due to heavy cost and its limited life span of only two to three years only, he added.

Mr Bragta also raised the issue of eight per cent commission being charged from Himachal fruit growers by the Delhi commission agents at Azadpur Mandi and asked the Centre to intervene in the matter.

He also handed over Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal's letter to Mr Pawar, urging the centre to inlcude apple crop under the Crop Insurance Scheme and provide cash relief to the farmers for loss of crop due to natural calamity.

Mr Pawar assured the minister that the Centre would take a positive and liberal view while providing assistance to the farmers of the state.

UNI AS PS VN1634

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