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Apple Growers Block Shimla-Narkanda Highway to Protest Against APMC for its Inaction Against Fraud Agents

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Apple Grower Protest against APMC at narkanda

Shimla- Apple growers on October 16, 2019, blocked the Shimla-Narkanda Highway near Kainthla mode (curve) for about three hours as a protest against the inaction of the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) against defaulter commission agents who have not paid the growers for their produce.

Enraged farmers demanded action against fraud agents and only opened the road after the officials of district administration assured that action would be initiated from October 17, 2019, onwards.

It’s pertinent to mention that a large number of farmers have lodged complaints with APMC as well as CID against agents who haven’t cleared payments for their produce. A couple of months ago, farmers had even filed FIRs against such agents and had managed to recover some of the payments. A Special Investigation Team was also formed in response to protests staged by growers. However, the majority of defaulters are still at large.

The Agriculture Minister Ramlal Markanda has already expressed his helplessness in checking fraudulent practices and help farmers recover their payments by saying that the government does not have any control over APMC. He also claims that the new APMC Bill 2019 needs to be passed to gain this control.

Kisan Sangharsh Samiti led by MLA, Theog, Rakesh Singha, has been raising the issue of fraudulent practices in the apple market for several months now. Farmers have been alleging that commission agents, who are conducting business without a licence, are now disappearing without paying for the produce purchased from them.

Also, unjustified cuts were being made by commission agents while procuring apple produce. 

Not only this season, but there are several growers who have not been paid for their produce since 2015. These pending payments amount to crores of rupees.

“JKB – a trader based in Narkanda- had been delaying the payments of several growers  worth crores after making purchases. He had assured that payments would be cleared on October 16, 2019. However, his office is closed, the phone is switched off for the last four days and he didn’t show up,”

said Rakesh Singha.

“As the end of the season is approaching, such agents are fleeing one by one under the nose of the APMC and administration,”

he added.

The farmers alleged that APMC is supposed to act against such defaulters under the provisions of APMC Act 2005 and help them recover their payments. However, neither APMC nor any other agency of the state government is willing to act.

There is a strict provision in the APMC Act that prohibits commission agents from conducting business in markets without a license. These agents are required to obtain a licence from the APMC or Agricultural Department. Also, these agents are required to deposit some amount of money as a guarantee to prevent them from cheating with farmers. In case, they fail to pay the farmers in time, APMC has the power to take action against them.

However, despite these provisions, APMC is in deep slumber, completely reluctant to act.

These agents have devoured crores of rupees from farmers under the patronage of APMC and the government, alleged the Samiti. It also alleged that inaction of APMC suggests that there is a strong nexus of government and commission agents that is looting farmers without any fear of legal action.

The farmers today also demanded that action should be initiated against culprit officials of APMC, who did not act timely on the complaints and indirectly patronized fraud agents.

The Samiti has given a deadline of October 26 and warned that more farmers would join the protest in future if the government still not acted.

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Himachal: Daily New COVID-19 Cases Crosses 1000 Mark, State Govt Directs Admins & Police to Show Strictness in Implementing SOPs

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Himachal Pradesh daily COVID-19 update april 12

Shimla– Reeling under the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Himachal Pradesh continues to report a huge surge in daily new cases and fatalities. On Monday, the state recorded 1089 cases – the highest in 24 hours this year. Nine more people succumbed to the infection, taking the COVID-19 death tally to 1111. Highest three deaths were reported from Una district, followed by Mandi (3).  View more details on fatalities below:

covid-19 deaths

Kangra district reported the highest 249 cases, followed by Solan (166), and Lahaul-Spiti (114). Find more district-wise details below:

himachal pradesh covid-19 surge

Source: HP NHM

Today’s cases also include former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Virbhadra Singh, who tested positive. Earlier, his son Vikramaditya had also tested positive for COVID-19. Pertinent to mention that Vikramaditya Singh had campaigned in the Municipal Corporation elections that were concluded on April 7. 

Further, 18 cases were reported from Pine Grove School, Solan. 

The state government, which had been mostly showing a casual approach towards the surge since the beginning of the second wave of the pandemic, is now coming hard on it in its review meetings.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur is now asking elected representatives of the local bodies to ensure that the people strictly follow the SoPs regarding temples and marriages.  The PRI members are being directed to motivate and advise the old people, those with co-morbidity to avoid going to public places as they are most prone to this virus.

“Such persons must be reverse quarantined meaning that their movement outside their houses should be minimized to the extent possible,” Chief Minister today said.

Yesterday the state government had made it mandatory for people arriving from seven high load states to carry RT-PCR negative report. The decision would apply from April 16 onwards, the government had decided.  However, he had added, that the state would remain open for tourists.

Chief Minister has asked the representatives of the PRI to keep an eye on the people visiting from other State, particularly from the high load states.

“As far as possible such people must be asked to remain in home quarantine for 10 to 14 days and getting themselves tested for COVID-19 and should not mix with the general public of the area,” he said.

The Transport Department was directed to ensure the sanitization of buses and other public transport.  Shopkeepers were told to strictly follow the ‘No Mask, No Service’ policy. Private bus operators were also asked to properly sanitize their buses and also ensure plying buses without overcrowding.

District administrations were asked to ensure that social functions such as marriages etc. strictly follow the maximum limit prescribed for such events.

Chief Minister said that action if required could be taken against the violators.

The District administration of Kullu district was directed to ensure that all the tourists visiting the district strictly follow SoPs issued from time to time. He told the administration that all the guidelines need to be followed and implemented strictly.

He said that the Ayurveda Department must also provide ‘kada’ to the patients under home isolation. The Police Department was directed to ensure that no casualness be adopted by the tourists, particularly in tourist spots such as Manikaran, Kasol, Manali etc.    

Deputy Commissioner Mandi Rugved Thakur, informed that 1,33,878 total sample done in the district, active cases were 443 and positivity ratio was 8.25 percent and fatality rate 1.2 percent. He said that 51 per cent cases in the district were from urban areas.

 

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HP Govt Makes RT-PCR Negative Report Mandatory for People Arriving from Seven States

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entry of tourists in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Tourist movement to Himachal Pradesh is likely to get hit during the peak season as the state government has made it mandatory for people of seven high load states viz. Punjab, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh need to carry 72-hour prior RT-PCR negative report while visiting the State. The restriction would apply after April 16th.

The decision came after Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, who had been insisting that there would be no restriction on tourist movement to avert economic losses to the tourism industry, held a review meeting amid a massive surge in new cases and deaths.  

The state government has decided to allow tourists to visit the State, but at the same time, hotel owners and tourists should strictly adhere to the SoPs, Chief Minister said.

“The virus was spreading at a fast pace which was the biggest concern. During the last 45 days, the State has reported 10,690 new covid cases. 120 deaths were reported in the State during the last 45 days,” he said.

Over 900 new cases with 12 fatalities were reported on Saturday only.  On Sunday, according to the Health Department’s daily update, the state recorded 512 new cases. 

Pertinent to mention that Maharastra, Delhi and a few other states had been suggesting that a complete lockdown could be imposed if the high rate of resurgence continued in the coming days.

Though the Chief Minister had been maintaining that lockdown would be the last resort, the tone appears to be changing with the worsening of the COVID-19 situation.

Further, laying stress on twin strategy for testing, tracing and treatment with effective surveillance of micro containment zones, Chief Minister said that greater emphasis must also be laid on RT-PCR tests to achieve the target of 70 percent RT-PCR tests.

He said that the State Health Department must also take steps to increase bed capacity to meet out any eventuality.

Meanwhile, no restriction has been put on the devotees visiting various temples in the State during the Navratri festival.

The government said no overcrowding would be allowed in buses and other public transport and private vehicles. Wearing face masks even in vehicles must be enforced strictly.

Chief Minister, who faced widespread criticism over violation of SOPs during the political campaigning for elections to the Municipal Corporations, blamed laxity shown by the people for a sharp resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the State.  

 

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Himachal Pradesh: 662 New Cases & 7 Deaths in 24 Hours, Over 4500 Cases & 55 Deaths in 9 Nine Days

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Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 report

Shimla– The number of new daily COVID-19 cases and deaths in Himachal Pradesh was reported to be 662 and seven respectively on Friday till 7 pm. Kangra district reported the highest 165 new cases and four fatalities, while Sirmaur, Shimla, and Mandi recorded one fatality each.

View details of COVID-19 deaths below:

Daily covid 19 deaths

Source: HP NHM

Solan followed Kangra district with 132 new cases.

Find district-wise details of new cases below:

Daily COVID-19 deaths in himachal pradesh

Source: HP NHM

The COVID-19 case and death tallies have now reached 68173 and 1090 respectively. In April, the state has recorded a huge surge in cases. In the nine days of this month, the state has recorded 4568 new cases and 55 COVID-19 deaths – a rate of more than six deaths per day.

The state government today reviewed the situation in its Cabinet meeting and expressed concern. However, no restrictive measures were taken except extending the closure of all educational institutes till April 21.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had been maintaining that a lockdown would be the last resort.

Further, the state government today said that to make vaccination people’s movement, 11th to 14th April may be celebrated as ‘Teeka Utsav’.

The government said that the biggest matter of concern was that the virus was spreading at a fast pace. In addition to this, the number of death has also increased rapidly. All the districts have been advised to enhance their capacity be it bed capacity, quarantine capacity and medical equipment capacity etc.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur said that strict action must also be taken against those involved in gross violation of SOPs. He said that the hoteliers must also strictly follow the SOPs so that the State Government may not be forced to take action. He said that laxity shown by the people has resulted in sharp resurgence of Covid cases in the State.

It’s pertinent to mention that during the campaigning for the elections to Municipal Corporations, all parties and their leaders including the Chief Minister violated all SOPs without attracting any action. The parties also faced criticism for ignoring public health for the sake of political interests, thus, setting wrong examples for the public.  

Feature Image: Pexels@polina-tankilevitch

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