|Tuesday, September 5, 2000,
727-cr development plan for
Demand for HP seed potato
HP concession to poor in hospitals
Dhumal castigates Cong leaders
173 polluting vehicles challaned
HPMC to sell apple through
HP lawyers call off
Permission sought to use IAF base
727-cr development plan for
SHIMLA, Sept 4 A Rs 727-crore plan for development of a sustainable horticulture industry in Himachal Pradesh and reorient it to face the challenges of a changed international trade scenario has been prepared.
The project prepared by the Horticulture Department will be completed in 10 years. An amount of Rs 396 crore will be earmarked on post-harvest management of fruit.
The report has taken into account the threats which the fruit industry is likely to face in a competition from the foreign producers when the world trade order (WTO) becomes fully effective in 2002. Some short term and long term strategies have been suggested to overcome the shortcomings.
The fruit industry is likely to face adverse effect due to the changing environment as a result of global warming and the green house effect. In the existing scenario of horticulture industry in the state there is a high rate of post-harvest losses due to lack of modern management system, very high temperature difference in the producing areas and the consuming markets specially for temperate fruits and distantly located orchards from the main roads. There is also lack of database both in respect of horticulture production and marketing.
The report has said that the project will lay a priority on quality planting material and develop a system of bud-wood and rootstock bank of outstanding germplasm for multiplication and supply of elite plant material to the private nurseries and fruit growers. It will create a system for doubling fruit production by providing 50 lakh elite fruit plants annually for which 300 hectares of modern nurseries shall be developed, both in the public and the private sector. An area of about 1.25 lakh hectares shall be planted under fruit plants over the next 10 years by fresh plantation over 75,000 hectares and replantation of the old orchards on 50,000 hectares.
The project aims at introduction of group marketing approach from the existing individual marketing by channelising the produce through common grading and packing houses operated by the farmers cooperatives, establishing 300 small grading and packing houses in the production area and provision of credit support and suitable incentives to the farmers adopting the technological interventions for accelerated development of horticulture.
The report has pointed out that the globalisation of the world economy and the WTO agreements are likely to induce a high level of competition in the marketing of horticulture produce. The productivity and quality of the produce shall have to be improved for keeping the states horticulture industry in the line of business. The market system shall also be required to be re-oriented and the marketing infrastructures will have to be established for reducing the post-harvest losses.
Fruits are generally not properly graded and packed and are rarely stored. The farmers are not able to guide the marketing because of the small quantity each one of them produces. Only a very small percentage of fruit is currently processed and the technology adopted by the industry is also of mediocre level.
The report has pointed out that there are ample opportunities for diversification of the horticulture industry by introducing high value crops which have so far remained unexploited. These include, not crops, cherry, red straits of pear, kiwi fruit, oil yielding fruit, pomegranate and fig. A block level diversification plan shall be prepared.
The project has proposed
to provide a fleet of 100 refrigerated trucks and vans to
carry fruit, vegetables and flowers to the consumer
markets throughout the year. These will be owned by the
packing houses, transport companies, middlemen or even
Demand for HP seed potato
SHIMLA, Sept 4 Seed potato growers of the tribal Lahaul-Spiti district are a worried lot. They are facing an acute marketing problem owing to lack of demand from consumer states for the second consecutive year.
The harvesting of the crop has already begun but there are no supply orders from states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Karnataka which have been procuring bulk of their requirement of seed potato from Himachal Pradesh. The problem is likely to be more severe as the production was likely to be over 2.50 lakh bags as against about two lakh bags last year.
The Lahaul Potato Society which markets the produce, could pay only Rs 215 per bag to growers last year as against Rs 730 per bag in 1998 when the production was 1.60 lakh bags and demand was high. The market for seed potato has been constantly on the decline for the past decade. The breakthrough made by scientists of the Central Potato Research Institute has made it possible to produce disease-free seed in plains. Consequently, production of high quality seed is longer sole preserve of Himachal Pradesh. Farmers in plains, particularly Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, has taken to seed production in a big way.
Until recently seed potato of Himachal Pradesh, particularly the one produced in the landlocked Lahaul-Spiti, was in great demand. It was the disease-free environment of the hills which enabled the farmers to produce top quality seed potato. As the demand within the state is only 35,000 to 40,000 bags, marketing the produce will always be a problem.
Officers of the Agriculture Department see bleak future for the seed potato. It was high time that the growers switched over to other cash crops like peas, says Mr J.S. Chandel, Deputy Director. Besides, as far as possible they should try to dispose of their produce as table potato for which there was ready market in the northern region itself.
The progressive farmers who have taken to peas cultivation are reaping rich returns. There is no marketing problem and their earning has almost doubled. Arhatias from Delhi come to Lahaul itself for procurement and they are paying as much as Rs 14 to Rs 16 per kg to farmers for peas. Average returns from peas range between Rs 75,000 to Rs 80,000 per hectare as against Rs 36,000 to Rs 40,000 per hectare in case of potato.
The area under potato is
dwindling fast and over the past one decade it has come
down from 1700 to 981 hectares. On the other hand the
area under peas has gone up to 1300 hectare over the past
five years. With the decline in market cultivation of
seed potato in Lahaul-Spiti, which set a record for
highest yield in the world two decades ago, is no longer
a profitable proposition.
HP concession to poor in
SHIMLA, Sept 4 Those living below the poverty line will be totally exempt from paying user charges which will be levied by the hospital management and welfare societies.
A spokesman of the government today said that news reports have appeared in various newspapers in the recent past that the Indira Gandhi College Hospital, Shimla, Dr Rajindra Prashad Medical College Tanda, Dental College Hospital, Shimla and district hospitals including Deen Dayal Upadaya hospital, Shimla have been privatised by converting them into societies.
He said that in fact in pursuance of the Budget assurance of the Chief Minister that autonomy would be given to certain institutions to increase their effectiveness and make them accountable, hospital management and welfare societies are being set up to improve the services being provided by these institutions by allowing them freedom to raise resources for development.
He said the nominal user charges to be levied by the societies will be retained by them which will lead to self-sufficiency in material management whereas money which was generated till now used to go to the government treasury. The revenue generated will be utilised for maintaining the facilities in the hospitals, he added.
He said that these societies would continue to receive grants from the government for material and supplies and machinery and equipments at its present level (less the present level of receipts). Poor people living below poverty line will be totally exempted from paying the charges. The setting up of hospital management and welfare societies will go a long way for better maintenance and management of hospitals thereby ensuring better services to the patients.
The spokesman added that this step of the government is to improve quality of services in the hospitals and no inference can be drawn that with the setting up such societies.
Dhumal castigates Cong leaders
KARSOG, Sept 4 Addressing a public meeting here last evening, the Himachal Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, came down heavily on the Congress leaders for spreading canards. He said the government had taken some important decisions to save the rural poor from exploitation at the hands of middlemen. The BJP-HVC government was making earnest efforts for the welfare of the common man who had been fed on mere lip-service for over 50 years.
Defending the recent amendment in the Land Revenue Act, Mr Dhumal said, We have done it in the supreme interest of the people by introducing a simple procedure to settle the revenue matters which used to linger on for decades. This prolonged civil litigation virtually used to break the backbone of the rural poor. I have invited agitating advocates to discuss the matter. I am prepared to withdraw any provision which is against the interests of the people. But I cannot negotiate the interests of the people with the interest of any profession and this aspect of the problem should be appreciated by the advocates also.
During an informal chat with reporters, Mr Dhumal also referred to the current statewide agitation by students for the restoration of elections in colleges and university. He added the ban had been imposed by the previous government in view of the mounting violence during the elections. He assured, I am very keen to resolve this problem within a few days from now after consultation with the Vice-Chancellor.
Decrying violence and indiscipline, Mr Dhumal said students must realise their main objective and strive hard to achieve that. The future of the country depended on them, he added.
The Chief Minister said while healthy criticism was the essence of democracy decency also demanded that decorum should be maintained by the Opposition leaders by refraining from making wild and vicious allegations. He warned that civil and criminal proceedings would be initiated against those who had become addicted to indulging in character assassination.
Mr Dhumal claimed innovative steps were being taken to empower the panchayats with some jurisdiction on schools and health institutions working in the respective area of panchayats. A new system was being evolved whereby the panchayats would monitor the performance of the staff and recommend to the government if particular persons should be retained or transferred in public interest. The government would honour their proposal, Mr Dhumal announced.
He said the government was contemplating creating district or subdivisional level cadres of certain categories of employees with the view to mitigating their sufferings caused by frequent transfers at the whim of one person or the other. After the formation of proposed cadres they would not be made rolling stones, he said.
Earlier, Mr J.P. Nadda, Health Minister, lamented vested interests were misleading the people about the well-intentioned proposal of the government to form cooperative societies in the premier hospitals of the state to increase their working and efficiency. With the formation of these societies the repair and replacement of equipment would become easier. No extra burden on patients would be imposed as was viciously being propagated, he said.
The Health Minister said eminent persons like presidents of zila parishads, nagar parishads, beopar mandals and other NGOs would be the members of the societies. The petty payments already being made would now go to the societies instead of the government for immediate spending on urgent requirements, he said.
Mr Mansa Ram, Food and Supplies Minister, hailing from Karsog, expressed gratitude to the Chief Minister for a bonanza of six big projects to the backward subdivisional town. Not many would believe the biggest college campus had been built in Karsog in the state, costing about Rs 5 crore. He urged the Chief Minister that work on the Alsindhi cement plant should also be taken up soon.
The Forest Minister, Mr Rup Singh, the Transport Minister, Mr Krishan Kapoor, the Education Minister, Mr I.D. Dhiman, the Technical Education Minister, Mr Ravinder Ravi, and the Rural Development Minister, Mr Prakash Chaudhary, were also present.
During his day-long
schedule, the Chief Minister inaugurated the Rs 1.10
crore Hotel Mamleshwar, the Rs 11.40 lakh HRTC sub-depot,
the Rs 4.75 crore government college building and also
laid the foundation stone of 110-bedded community health
centre building costing Rs 3.05 crore and the Rs 4.96
crore ITI complex and hostel for the Scheduled Caste
173 polluting vehicles
SHIMLA, Sept 4 A majority of the vehicles plying in and around the state capital have been violating the air pollution norms.
A week-long drive carried out by the state Pollution Control Board and the railway and traffic police revealed vehicular emissions were above the permissible level in 52 per cent of the vehicles. In all, 812 vehicles, including 502 diesel driven one, were checked during the drive.
In case of diesel driven vehicles the smoke emission was found to be more than 65 HSU (Harridge smoke unit), the maximum permissible limit, in 144 vehicles.
The level of carbon monoxide in the exhaust emission was higher than the maximum permissible limit of 3 per cent in 277 vehicles in petrol driven vehicles. In all, 421 vehicles were found emitting pollutants higher than the permissible limit.
During the camp it was also found that various vehicles, although possessing valid pollution under control certificates on testing were found emitting pollutants above the maximum permissible level and in some cases far above the prescribed levels. In all, 173 vehicles were challaned for non-compliance of standards.
Mr Vyas Dev Sharma, Assistant Environmental Engineer, and Dr Suresh Chand Attri of the state Pollution Control Board said this vehicular monitoring camp was organised not only to ensure compliance of the norms but also for creating mass awareness among schoolchildren and the public.
They said the board did not have requisite powers to enforce regulations pertaining to vehicular emission as only state Transport Department had been declared as the prescribed authority under the Motor Vehicle Act.
Mr Nagin Nanda, Member, Secretary, said the matter had been taken up with the Transport Department for taking suitable action against the erring service stations who had been authorised by the Transport Department to issue pollution control certificates and were not maintaining proper quality control measures while granting the same.
Also, there was a need for the state Transport Department to maintain strict vigil on such authorised service stations to ensure the authenticity of pollution control certificates. He said as a part of the awareness drive similar camps were organised at Parwanoo and Paonta Sahib as well.
HPMC to sell apple through
SHIMLA, Sept 4 The government owned Horticulture Produce Marketing Corporation (HPMC) has decided to come to the rescue of apple growers by selling their produce through the Internet and breaking the monopoly of the Delhi traders.
This was announced here today by the Horticulture Minister, Mr Narendera Bragta , while talking to newsmen.
He said all offices of the HPMC will be linked with the Internet to help the farmers sell their produce directly to various markets in the country.
He said the Rs 1.81 crore Kisan Bhavan is nearing completion at Delhi and it would become the nerve centre for marketing of apple and other horticulture produce. The minister said the Internet trading of apple would be made operative next year.
In a bid to break the monopoly of middlemen of Delhi the HPMC has also decided to make outright purchase of apple in the orchards. The fruit will be stored in the cold stores at Bombay, Delhi and Parwanoo to prevent glut and crashing of prices.
Mr Bragta said over one crore apple boxes have been exported outside the state so far during the current season, but not a single complaint of irregularity has come to light.
Under the market intervention scheme (MIS) by the HPMC and HIMFED has procured 22,000 metric tonnes of apple at its 260 centres. One hundred and thirty metric tonnes of the procured apple was being processed daily by the HPMC at its plants at Parwanoo and Jarol. Two hundred and forty metric tonnes of apple juice concentrate has been manufactured.
Twenty six procurement centres have been opened in the tribal area of Kinnaur where about 15 lakh apple boxes were stuck up because of extensive damage to roads due to the recent flashfloods.
Mr Bragta said to provide remunerative prices for good quality apple to growers, the HPMC has decided to buy the fruit in boxes at the orchards at Rs 5 higher than the prevailing market rate in Delhi.
He said the HPMC was making a marketing tie-up with a multinational company, Wockhardt, for supplying its juices to Indian Airlines and the Railways. The products would also be marketed in 12 cities on experimental basis.
The HPMC has exported 780 metric tonnes of apple juice concentrate to Germany, Ghana and the USA which had piled up in its cold stores since 1996.
Mr Bragta said the emphasis of the government was to strengthen the marketing infrastructure.
Two wine factories were being set up in Shimla and Kulu districts in the joint sector. A hops processing plant was nearing completion at Baddi in Solan district.
In order to promote diversification of horticulture, the government has introduced new varieties of fruit including grapes suitable for making wine blue berry, improved varieties of pomegranate, hops, walnut, cherry, plum and apple. Plants and rootstock for these varieties has been imported from the USA, Newzealand and the Netherlands.
A plant health clinic
has been set up at Kotkhai to meet the requirements of
the World Trade Organisation and a biological control
laboratory was being set up at Rajhana in Shimla district
to create an environment to prevent the use of
HP lawyers call off agitation
SHIMLA, Sept 4 The joint action committee of the lawyers called off their fortnight-long stir against the amendments in the Himachal Land Revenue Act following talks with the Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, here today.
A delegation of lawyers headed by Mr Daulat Ram Sharma, chairman of the committee, apprised Mr Dhumal about its reservations in accepting the amendments. They stressed that the amendments were not in the interest of farmers and against the spirit of the Constitution which laid down that executive would be separated from judiciary.
Permission sought to use IAF base
SHIMLA, Sept 4 The Union Civil Aviation Minister has sought permission from the Defence Ministry for operation of civil flights from Pathankot air base of the Indian Air Force.
This was informed by Mr Chaman Lal Gupta, the Union Minister of State Civil Aviation to Mr P.K. Dhumal, the Chief Minister, in response to the request made by the state for opening the airport for the benefit of tourists and others visiting Himachal Pradesh. He also informed that the case for the development of civil enclave adjoining the Indian Air Force area had also been taken up so that civil flights could be operated without any hindrance.
He said a team of the
Airport Authority of India had identified an area of
approximately 40 acres outside the southern end of the
airport for the development of civil enclave and other
infrastructure to handle civil flights.
Residents block traffic
KUMARHATTI, Sept 4
Ongoing agitation of residents of Subathu, 19 km
from here took a new turn today when more than 100 of
them led by local Yuva Morcha and Mahila Morcha organised
chakka jam. The irate residents demanding
civilian health centre inside the Subathu cantonment
periphery raised slogans against district administration
for adopting indifferent attitude towards their demand.
The irate mob blocked traffic to Dharampur, Solan and
Kunnihar for more than seven hours delaying tomato-laden
SHIMLA, Sept 4 In a minor reshuffle the Himachal Government today shifted three district police chiefs.
Mr R.M. Sharma, Superintendent of Police, Chamba, has been transferred and posted as Superintendent of Police, Hamirpur vice Mr N. Venugopal who goes to Kulu in the same capacity. Mr Anurag Garg, Superintendent of Police, Kulu, proceeds on deputation to the Centre.
Employees union may start stir
SHIMLA, Sept 4 The Himachal State Cooperative Bank Employees Union has served a 10-day notice on the bank management for the acceptance of its demands.
Their main demand is
immediate holding of the meetings of departmental
promotion committees (DPC) for all categories of
employees so that vacant posts could be filled. The union
said the DPC meeting was held for only two categories of
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