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Himachal State Commission asks government to disclose info in Priyanka land allocation case

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The Himachal Pradesh government has been directed by the State Information Commission(SIC) to disclose information relating to Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi’s land at Chabbra, 13 Km from Shimla.

The information is sought to be provided within 10 days.

“We hold the the disclosure of the information in the case is in the larger interest of the public. The Public Information Office(PIO) is directed to disclose the information within 10 days from today”, ordered a bench comprising the state’s Chief Information Commissioner Bhim Sen and Information Commissioner KD Batish.

The order was passed after RTI activist Devashish Bhattacharya filed an appeal against the order of the PIO that denied information on grounds that the disclosure would affect Priyanka’s security as her name figured in the Special Protection Group.

The bench issued a show-cause notice to the PIO, saying the denial of the information had caused unnecessary delay.

Additional District Magistrate and District Commissioner sought reply by July 23 asking as to why penalty should not be imposed for not providing information within the stipulated time.

“The SPG security cover was provided to Priyanka, not to the land. Therefore to deny information on this pretext was extremely unfair”, the Commission remarked.

Moreover, the Commission held that all elected MP’s make known all details related to their properties during elections.

Priyanka had purchased the land in question in 2007 during the Congress government of Virbhadra Singh.

She had been given relaxation under Section 118 of the HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, a law which debars outsiders and non-agriculturalists to purchase land in the state.

Permission to purchase an additional piece of land where Priyanka is building a three storied cottage was given by the BJP government headed by Prem Kumar Dhumal.

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To protect British-era old apple industry in Himachal Pradesh, Government replaces senile apple trees with exotic varieties

About six lakh new saplings have been replanted under the apple rejuvenation scheme covering 5,917 beneficiaries during the past four years

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Apple Tree, Pixabay

Shimla, March 19, 2017: To protect the British-era old apple industry in Himachal Pradesh, the state government has started a project under which old and senile apple plants are replaced with exotic high-yield varieties.

About six lakh new saplings have been replanted under the apple rejuvenation scheme covering 5,917 beneficiaries during the past four years, an official with the state Horticulture Department said on Sunday.

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He said the department has uprooted more than three lakh old and senile apple plants.

Besides, a World Bank-funded Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Development Project is being implemented in the state with an outlay of Rs 1,134 crore, mainly to protect apple cultivation.

This hill state is one of India’s major apple-producing regions, with more than 90 per cent of the produce going to the domestic market. Apples alone constitute 84 per cent of the state’s fruit economy of Rs 3,500 crore ($520 million).

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To protect the apple and other fruit crops from natural vagaries like hailstorms, the state government is providing subsidy on anti-hail nets.

According to the Horticulture Department records, 473.73 hectare have been covered under the state’s anti-hail net scheme, benefiting 1,514 orchardists in the past four years.

The official said the state would cover more farmers in the next fiscal under the anti-hail net scheme, under which each grower is being provided 80 per cent subsidy on installing nets.

Prominent mid-hills apple belts in Kotkhai, Kiari, Chirgaon, and Rohru in Shimla district, which alone account for 80 per cent of the state’s total apple production, Karsog, Churag and Seri in Mandi district and Ani and Dalash in Kullu district are prone to hailstorms.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh presenting the state Budget for 2017-18 this month proposed to install more weather recording systems across the state during the year so that real time data is collected and weather-based crop insurance benefits flow to the farmers.

In the next fiscal, the government is going to increase plantation of kiwi in Chamba, Hamirpur, Una, Mandi, Bilaspur, Solan, Sirmaur and Kangra districts as temperatures up to 35 degree Celsius are congenial for the fruit’s cultivation.

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Horticulture experts say another interesting aspect relating to kiwi fruit is that monkeys do not eat it and it fetches good market price.

According to the state’s Economic Survey 2016-17, the overall production of fruit and food grain in Himachal Pradesh may decline this fiscal.

The production of fruit was 5.10 lakh tonnes in 2016-17 (till December), compared with 9.29 lakh tonnes in 2015-16.

In this fiscal, 4.56 lakh tonnes of apple were produced till December against 7.77 lakh tonnes in the previous financial year. (IANS)