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Himachal not to use anti-hail guns to protect crops

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Shimla, The previous BJP government’s plan to install more anti-hail guns to protect fruit crops from hailstorms in Himachal Pradesh may be scrapped, Horticulture Minister Vidya Stokes said here Tuesday.

Expressing doubts over the worthiness of the anti-hail guns installed on a pilot basis in the state, for the first time in the country, Stokes said the government would not make use of three guns installed in 2010 in Shimla district.

The state horticulture department installed the anti-hail guns in Deorighat, Kathasu and Braionghat under a Rs.3.29 crore central government-funded project to protect apples from hailstorms during the flowering and fruit setting season.

“We will study the worthiness of the guns. As per our feedback and experience, they are not worthy to provide protection to crops from natural calamities. If needed, we will stop their use,” Stokes told reporters here.

She said before taking any decision in this regard, local farmers would be consulted.

Anti-hail guns create shock waves to disrupt formation of hailstones.

“The guns are not environment friendly and they are disturbing the weather. We would promote the use of anti-hail nets, the traditional method,” Stokes, a prominent apple grower in the region, added.

According to horticulture department estimates, hailstorms damage 20-30 percent of vegetable and fruit crops in the state every year.

Himachal Pradesh, which has 90 percent of its population in rural areas, produced l.03 million tonnes of fruits in 2011, of which 892,000 tonnes were apples. It also produced a record 1.35 million tonnes of vegetables, valued at $400 million.

The BJP government last year had increased the farm subsidy on anti-hail nets from Rs.25,000 to Rs.50,000.

Stokes said the government was planning to increase the subsidy on nets to 80 percent.

The BJP government last year had submitted a Rs.374 crore anti-hail gun project to the central government for funding to install 300 guns in the state.

A high-level expert committee headed by Gorakh Singh, horticulture commissioner, had toured the apple-growing areas in the state in this regard.
-IANS

Misc News/Press Release

Bat deaths in Himachal not due to Nipah Virus, Don’t panic: Govt

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Nipah virus in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla: To put an end to the rumours of Nipah virus outbreak in Himachal Pradesh after dead bats were found in Sirmaur a couple of days ago and then in Mandi district on Friday, the State Government today issued a statement asking people not to panic about it.

Apart from the outbreak of Nipah Virus in two districts of Kerala State no information regarding its spread has been reported from any other part of Himachal as well as the country, stated Additional Chief Secretary, Health B.K. Agarwal in a meeting held here today.

He said that only fruit bats (flying fox) have been found carrying this virus. These types of bats are found in the coastal regions of the county.

Therefore, there is no possibility of Nipah Virus in the bats found in Himachal Pradesh.

He said that the bats reported having died in the state were not due to the virus as these species do not die by Nipah Virus.

Agarwal said that a few days back samples from dead bats in Sirmaur were collected and sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune for testing and all the samples were reported negative for Nipah Virus.

Additional Chief Secretary has advised people not to panic about the Nipah Virus. He said that all the medical colleges of the State were prepared to deal with the situation if needed.

Officers of Health, Animal husbandry, Forest & Horticulture department were present in the meeting, chaired by Agarwal.

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Misc News/Press Release

Met predicts state-wide rains in Himachal on May 31 and June 1

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rain prediction for himachal in 2018

Shimla: As a ray of hope amid acute water-scarcity prevailing in Himachal Pradesh’s various regions including the capital town Shimla, the Meteorological Department, Shimla, has predicted state-wide rain with thunderstorms on May 31 and June 1.

If lucky, four districts including Kangra, Kullu, Mandi, and Shimla can receive a spell of rain on May 29 and 30 too.

With the rains, the people also hope to see a relief from the scorching heat of summer sun and forest fires. The Fire Department is reportedly facing trouble in dousing forest fires due to water scarcity.

As per the Met department, District Bilaspur and Una recorded 41℃ and 43℃ temperature on Saturday.

The farmers in rural areas and the public in towns, both are facing a hard time due to a shortage of water. Shimla town has run into a situation of chaos as the Mayor Kusum Sadret on Friday left for her China visit. The situation is such that the Chief Minister had to call an emergency meeting with Irrigation & Public Health Department to take stock of the situation.

The High Court had also taken cognizance of the media report and directed the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation to provide adequate funds to the State for water-supply schemes worth over Rs. 700 crores.

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Environment

400 fire watchers deployed, Rs. 1.75 cr. sanctioned for checking forest fires in Himachal: Forest Minister

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Forest fires in himachal pradesh

Shimla: The Forest Minister of Himachal Pradesh Govind Singh Thakur today informed that four hundred fire watchers have been deputed across the State and added that Rs. 1.75 crore has been sanctioned by the GoI for checking and management of fire incidents in the State.

Every year, forest fires in summers turn a large amount of forest wealth to ashes. 

He said that State government has started a new project from this year for management of fire incidents by spending Rs. 1 crore additionally.

He also claimed that with a view to check the number of forest fire incidents in the State, the department implemented an awareness campaign in the month of March which proved effective and a lot of support and cooperation is coming from people in tackling fire incidents.

He said that about 9500 people got connected to the website of Forest Survey of India Dehradun which proved helpful to them in receiving information about fire incidents in their areas.

He said that the department also started a toll-free number for receiving this information. He said that the information regarding fire incidents is coming faster this year as compared to previous years due to these measures and action is being taken instantly.

He urged the people of the State to extend support to the department.

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