Himachal apple growers push ahead with gherao secretariat despite government approval of 6% subsidy on cartons

The Newz Radar

Notwithstanding the announcement by the government of Himachal Pradesh on providing a 6% subsidy on cartons, apple growers have decided to go ahead with their Secretariat gherao scheduled for August 5 in Shimla.

Sanyukt Kisan Manch (SKM) member Sunil Chauhan said the Jai Ram Thakur government had only accepted four of the 20 demands it presented to the chief minister during their July 28 meeting. Various associations of apple growers have come together under the SKM to fight for their demands, the main one being the control of soaring input prices.

At a July 28 cabinet meeting, the government had agreed to bear 6% of the 18% GST levied on apple cartons. The government had announced that it would supply about two crore cartons at subsidized rates through HP Horticulture Produce Marketing and Processing Corporation (HPMC) and Himachal Pradesh State Cooperative Marketing and Consumers Federation (HIMFED). Producers will have to pay 12% GST instead of the current 18%.

Appreciating the government’s decision to provide GST subsidy on cartons, Chauhan said their other 15 demands, including supply of MSP for A, B and C grade apples on Kashmir lines and India increase in import duties on apples imported from Iran, had not yet been met. The apple industry in Himachal was worth around Rs 5,000 crore and was facing a crisis given imports from 44 countries including Iran and Turkey. Producers want import duties to be doubled from the current 50 percent to 100 percent.

Chauhan said the import of apples from Iran to India increased after the United States and Russia imposed sanctions on the country. “As a result, Himachal apples do not fetch good remunerative prices. We want Rs 60 MSP for grade A apples, Rs 40 for grade B apples and Rs 25 for grade C apples on the Jammu and Kashmir model,” he said.

The Chief Minister, who himself belongs to an apple tree belt from Mandi district in Seraj, had called a meeting on July 28 with the apple tree representatives grouped under the Sanyukt Kisan Manch (SKM). Arborists took to the streets in various parts of the state, mainly Shimla district, known as the apple bowl of the country.

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