Former Horticulture Minister Narinder Bragta accused the government of remaining a mute spectator to the crashing apple economy. While addressing press at Shimla, Bragta blamed “insensitive attitude” of the Congress led Govt towards apple growers and announced to launch peaceful agitation in support of the demands of apple growers from Rampur on September 1 and will be followed in Rohru on September 4 and Chopal on September 6.
Bragta said the reduction of import duty on foreign apple from 50 to zero per cent has resulted in the price of the best quality apple crash to Rs 900 per box. He said that due to less import cess the Rs 3,500-crore apple economy of state is almost on the verge of collapse.
The former minister said that none of the five Congress legislators from Shimla district had raised the issue either in the Assembly or with the Congress-led UPA regime. He asked Chief Minister to take some effective step to stop and as merely writing a letter to the Prime Minister was not enough.
Bragta said that Govt is also insensitive towards infrastructure as bad shape of Rohru-Theog, Chopal-Sainj and other connective roads were resulting in frequent traffic jams and causing huge loses to growers and truck owners. BJP senior leader also claimed that middlemen were fleecing growers as there was no government protection.
He asked the government to plan an alternate apple route and aerial ropeway for transportation and import of high-yielding commercial variety.