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Smoking anti-hail gun leaves apple growers counting losses

Shimla: Even as the horticulture department is yet to experiment the efficacy of anti-hail guns in warding off the calamity and saving crops, last weeks’ hailstorms have left behind a trail of damaged fruit crops across many fruit and vegetable growing belts, dashing hopes of many farmers.

To assess the losses, revenue minister Gulab Singh Thakur has asked the department to do a quick survey and place a damage report with 10 days.

“Reports about hail damage to fruit crops are pouring in each day and I have asked revenue commissioner to assess the losses within 10 days so that the government could take necessary steps,” said Thakur.

Dismayed by the government plans, Amar Singh, an hail hit orchard owner from Rampur block said, “even after two years when the anti hail gun measure was proposed, the government has not tried it out on an experimental basis even and with there being no crop insurance for hail damage, we are at the brutal mercy of nature.”

Heavy fruit losses have been reported in apple orchards in Gopalpur and Guara in Rampur, Kotgarh, Karsog, Kotkhai, Nither and Nirmand in Kullu, Rohru, Chirgaon and several other areas. Vegetable growers in Theog, Mashobra and part of Solan are also counting their losses.

Ten days ago, the horticulture minister Narinder Bragta had put out a preliminary apple production estimate at about 2.5 crore boxes that could fall short after the fresh damage count is completed.

Based on weather conditions that precipitate hailstorms, the anti-hail gun devices fire a gas into the clouds to dissolve the hail forming conditions.

The state government proposed to try out such a gun in 2008 and is scouting for a suitable location to carry out the trial that may only fruity for the next summer, said Amar Singh.

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Author: ih

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