3,000 Theog apple growers not paid subsidy for over 7 years

Subhash Rajta

Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 6

Over 3,000 apple growers of Theog block in Shimla district are waiting for subsidy payment for the past many years. Many of them have not been paid subsidy since 2013-14.

"There's a pendency of over seven years in many cases. We will submit a memorandum to the Director, Horticulture, on December 8. If the subsidy amount is still not released, we will start an agitation outside the Horticulture Department office from December 19," said Hira Singh Shastri, president of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti formed to take up the matter of pending subsidy, here today.

The government offers up to 80 per cent subsidy on anti-hail nets, power tillers, sprayers, etc, to increase the quality and quantity of the produce.

"The government encouraged people to buy anti-hail nets and other equipment by offering heavy subsidies. They took bank loans or borrowed money on interest from their acquaintances in hope that they would repay it once they get the subsidy amount," said Shastri. Unfortunately, most of the farmers have not received the subsidy amount, causing distress to them," he added.

DR Sharma, Deputy Director, Horticulture Department, Shimla, said that the department was working to pay the outstanding amounts to people. "The demand in Theog block is much higher compared to other blocks. It's one of the reasons for high pendency. Also, there's a shortage of staff, including a Horticulture Development Officer, in this block, which has delayed the processing of cases," he added.

Farmers, however, allege that Theog block has been discriminated against in subsidy payment. "There's hardly any pendency in our blocks like Jubbal-Kotkhai and Narkanda. How come the pendency in Theog block is over seven years?" said Shastri.

He said the subsidy amounts varied between Rs 10,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh. "We have been waiting patiently all these years for the subsidy but have run out of patience now," he added.

A few months ago, Horticulture Minister Mahender Singh had said the pending subsidy of Theog block was too high for the government to clear in one go.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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