Already coping-up with hostile climatic conditions, the apple producers in Himachal Pradesh, suffered a fresh blow in the lean crop season due to truckers strike, called by the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) on July 20, adversely affected the transportation of fruits. All the main fruit mandis in Shimla, including Dhalli and Bhattakufer besides Parla (Theog) and Nerva wore a deserted look.
Reports from Jubbal-Kotkhai, Rohru and Chopal revealed that thousands of boxes of freshly harvested apples and pears were lying in the orchards or roadsides due to lack of transportation facilities.
“Being a perishable commodity, the fruits are going to rot in the boxes. Those orchardists who had done the last sprays (colour) before the harvest are a worried lot. If the truckers strike gets prolonged even for a day, the loss is going to be unimaginable,” says Ashish Chauhan, a young orchardist at Kotkhai.
Ashish admits that he was taken by surprise by the truckers strike as he had no idea about the situation turning so bad . The local traders ( commission agents) also closed down their shops Thursday which was another blow with more than Rs 80,000 worth apples already packed and another Rs 2 lakh value produce ready for harvest within the next 24 hours.
Theog MLA Rakesh Singha (CPM) today shot off a letter to Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur highlighting the plight of the apple growers and sought his immediate intervention to pressurise the Centre to get the strike called off .”
“The strike is adversely affecting the farmers in Himachal Pradesh. The only mode of transportation is by road. It was announced by the AIMTC that vegetables, fruits and dairy products would be exempted from the strike, but unfortunately this has not happened in reality.” he said.
Principal Secretary (Transport) JC Sharma when contacted said, “We are in constant touch with the central government. The authorities have been appraised about the gravity of the situation if the supply line is affected. The fruit and vegetable growers are the ones who will bear the burnt”.