Damaged in 2020, Bhattakuffar fruit mandi yet to be restored

Subhash Rajta

Shimla, September 11

The plans to restore Bhattakuffar Fruit Mandi to its previous size have now been languishing for last three years. The traders, arhtiyas and orchardists have been ruing about paucity of space and various other challenges at a time when around 25,000 apple boxes are reaching at the mandi daily.

Proposal sent

A proposal prepared by a private agency to restore the mandi has been sent to the HPSAMB, where it will be taken up in its board of director meeting. — Devraj Kashyap, secretary, Shimla APMC

Not yet received

The Himachal Pradesh State Agricultural Marketing Board has not received any proposal for restoring the Bhattakuffar Fruit Mandi. — An HPSAMB official

This is the third apple season since the market yard of the mandi was damaged in a landslide in July 2020. A private agency has carried out a detailed survey to restore the mandi after the Agriculture Producers Marketing Committee (APMC), Shimla, dropped the plan to get it done by IIT Mandi.

"IIT Mandi was demanding a huge amount for the survey alone. Subsequently, a private agency was roped in and it has quoted an amount of Rs 4.5 crore to restore the market yard," Devraj Kashyap, secretary of the APMC, said adding that no effort would be spared to restore the mandi. "We have sent the proposal to the Himachal Pradesh State Agricultural Marketing Board (HPSAMB), where it will be taken up in its board of director (BoD) meeting," said Kashyap. The proposal, however, was not discussed in the BoD held a few days back. Besides, a board official claimed that they had not received any such proposal from the APMC.

Meanwhile, the people working at the Mandi are under constant threat shooting stones and landslide from the hill overlooking the yard.

"It's been more than two years since the yard was damaged, but no effort has been made to restore the yard and ensure the safety of workers, traders and orchardists. Horticulture Minister and top horticulture officials should visit the mandi and see the precarious situation. Their indifference is really unfortunate," said an apple grower. "Just a km away from the market yard, a 150-m long Dhalli-Sanjauli tunnel has been dug up in about six months... And here the APMC has not been able to remove even a rock in over two years. This shows their lackadaisical attitude," said another grower.

Along with the growers, the arhtiyas, too complained about the lack of proper facilities. "The mandi provided around Rs 4 crore as market fee to the APMC last year — perhaps the highest fee paid by any mandi in the state. Still, the officials concerned have not made any effort to restore the yard," NS Chaudhary, president of the State Arhtiya Sangh, said. "A concrete plan should be prepared to revamp the market yard without wasting any further time so that it's ready by the next season. Both growers and arhtiyas deserve much better facilities to carry out the trade," he said.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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