Tribune News Service
Solan, August 27
Apple growers are forced to sell their produce from temporary sheds erected on the Kather bypass on the Solan-Shimla section of National Highway (NH)-5, as the Solan-based Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) has not witnessed expansion even 17 years after its inauguration.
Apple trading has registered an exponential increase from this committee in the last few years. “As against 6 lakh boxes which were traded in the corresponding period last year, as much as 13 lakh boxes worth more than Rs 200 crore have already been sold this year till now,” said committee’s secretary Ravinder Sharma.
Traders operate from the open sheds erected along the highway where they also face rain and slush whenever it rains. Since this NH leads to the capital town of Shimla, it faces an immense traffic during the peak summers which also coincides with the apple trading season.
Despite that the committee is earning substantial revenue from this trade, the expansion of facilities has failed to keep pace with the flourishing apple trade.
“Space constraint for unloading and loading of apples triggers its illegal sale by unauthorised traders as there is no defined yard. Though the genuine bidders operate within the yard, those operating unauthorisedly indulge in illegal trade unscrupulously. Such traders also dupe the growers and also cause loss of revenue to the APMC,” said Vishal, an apple trader.
The problem can’t be solved until permanent sheds are set up and the marketing yard is defined, say traders.
“Sixty temporary sheds have been set up by the traders on a two hectare area provided by the APMC along the highway for apple trading. There is an immense demand to give license to more traders but given the paucity of space, no fresh licenses were being issued either at Solan or at Parwanoo,” informed committee’s secretary Ravinder Sharma.
Though no permanent structure has yet been created here and facilities like temporary electricity connections for all sheds, toilets and bath facilities, drinking water, etc., are being provided at the place during marketing season claim the officials but rain and slush often inconvenience the traders.
ADetailed Project Report (DPR) worth Rs 10.69 crore for construction of permanent structure, including auction platform along with all the required facilities, has been prepared and it was awaiting approval from the Chief Engineer, Shimla. Work will commence after its approval and completion of all requisite formalities, said Sharma.