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HP: Agitation by Apple Growers Intensifies Against Rising Input Costs; Big Protest Planned on Aug 5

Growers are also upset with the latest sharp increase in the cost of packaging material due to 6% increase in GST, as well as “the indifference of the government”.
Apples him aiks

Representational use only.Image Source: Twitter/@KisanSabha

New Delhi: A large number of apple growers in Himachal Pradesh took to the streets on Wednesday, at various places in upper Shimla, Kullu and Kinnaur districts to protest against the steady rise in the input costs of apple cultivation.

Braving heavy rains, various apple growers’ organisations came together under the banner of the Sanyukt Kisan Manch at Rohru, Theog, Rampur, Kotkhai, Narkanda, Nirmand in Kullu and Kinnaur. They have also decided to hold the next protest at the Secretariat in Shimla on August 5.

Addressing the media after the protest, Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla and co-convener of the manch, said: “Growers from all apple-growing areas will join the protest to wake up the government from its slumber.”

Apart from the steadily increasing input costs, growers are upset with the latest sharp increase in the cost of packaging material due to 6% increase in the Goods and Services Tax (GST), as well as “the indifference of the government”.

According to a report in The Tribune, the growers seem particularly angry with Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Minister Mahender Singh for his “indifference” to their plight. Slogans were raised against the minister during the protest at most places.

“The government’s indifference is causing resentment and anger among the growers. If the government still fails to take note of the agitation, it has the potential of snowballing into the 1987 and 1990 agitations,” Lokinder Bisht, president of the Progressive Growers Association told The Tribune, adding that  “Those two agitations had started from Rohru, and this agitation too has started from Rohru.”

Reportedly, Opposition parties, such as the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP,) have also picked up the issue and have been organising protests and press conferences in support of the apple growers.

Chauhan said that the participation in Wednesday’s protest was much bigger than expected and that protests had now spread to newer areas. “It’s a wake-up call for the government to take the apple growers seriously,” Chauhan said.

Rakesh Singha, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA from Theog, urged all Opposition parties to rise above political considerations and join the fight of the apple growers.

“We can’t allow the government to destroy the apple industry. The government will see the strength of the apple growers on August 5, nothing can stop them now,” he told The Tribune.

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