New Delhi: In Himachal Pradesh, polls come and go, but issues remain the same with political parties offering new hopes. The monkey menace and apple price crash for growers drew many promises for resolutions in the past elections, but these issues still beg for solutions.
Monkeys have grown in numbers and they destroy crops, locals lament. They descend on homes, roads and agricultural land in herds. Drivers bring their vehicles to screeching halts to avoid hurting monkeys on roads. “Monkeys have come down from the upper mountains to lower valleys. We have to be watchful to avoid any of them coming under wheels,” said Ankur Sharma, a resident of Palampur.
Observers say the natural habitats of monkeys has been destroyed, which forced them to come down to lower levels. “Fruit bearing forest trees in the upper Himalayas have been destroyed. We have disturbed their habitats. Monkeys used to eat garnu, a forest fruit,” BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in Himachal Pradesh, Pawan Kumar Dhumal, told The Sunday Standard.
The ruling Congress claims some relief from the moneky menace, while committing in the party manifesto to do more if it is elected to power. “The monkey menace has somewhat been managed,” said Sachin Thakur, Congress district president of Jwalamukhi Assembly constituency.
The BJP is telling the people that if it comes to power, it’ll form an effective plan of action. “We can have a low voltage current fencing of crop land equipped with solar panels, besides a unit of ex-servicemen could be raised to ward off monkeys from entering human habitats,” Lok Sabha member from Hamirpur and BJP leader Anurag Thakur told The Sunday Standard.
Kinnaur apple is much sought after for its juiciness. A bountiful snowfall last year helped the state give a bumper apple production, which in turn led to a price crash. Transportation costs also force apple growers to sell their produces at low prices for want of modern cold chains.
“We can lay down an infrastructure of ropeways to help transport apple boxes to lower regions to help growers get better prices,” said Thakur. However, political leaders here lament that the liberal policy of the Central government to allow apple imports is also depriving growers of Himachal Pradesh to get remunerative prices.