Transporters fleecing apple farmers in Himachal Pradesh

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Shimla, Aug. 13 (ANI):Transporters in Himachal Pradesh are exploiting apple farmers by charging more than the accepted transport fare.

According to farmers, the transporters are charging two to three times the fixed fare and this exploitation is causing huge losses to the former.

The shortage of transport vehicles and over charge of fare, is according to farmers, damaging the state's apple crop.

"The excess charges of the fare from the farmers are exploiting us. For last three years it had been increased three times. The crop of the apple farmers in the state are already affected with hails and it is an overburden to the farmers. We demand an immediate intervention from the administration," said Mohit Kumar, a farmer.

Farmer leaders believe this is taking place because of the government's ignorance.

"The apple season this year is the worst we have seen in my life. This time, I think the government has failed to control this looting of farmers.Truck operators are charging huge fares from farmers. For a 20 kilogram box, they are charging 120 rupees for a distance of 180 kilometers, which should be about 40 rupees," said Sanjay Chauhan, general secretary of the Himachal Pradesh Fruit Growers Association.

"We haven't received any complaint of the shortage of vehicles. Farmers are opting for different vehicles to transport their produce. If some transporters are doing over charging we would take strict acting. We have teams and local administration at different level to check this. We have also made collection center for apple at this level our officials are insuring that no over charging for transport of apple is being charged," said Mohinder Singh, Road and Transport Minister of Himachal Pradesh.

Farmers in rural Shimla, Kinnaur and Kullu districts and those living in areas such as Rohru, Theog, Kotgarh, Narkanda, Rampur ,Aani, Jubble, Kotkhai and chopal are said to be particularly affected.

Himachal Pradesh has 9,86,338 hectare of land under crop cultivation. Out of this, 200,000 hectares land is meant for fruit groves.

The apple crop occupies around 48 percent of the area of state fruit groves. This state produces an annual average of 5.50 lakh metric tonnes of apples.

Thousands of people are dependent on the revenue from apple sales. The apple crop generates over Rs.1800 crore for the state. By Hemant Chauhan (ANI)

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