BJP in Himachal Pradesh today accused the state government of being "indifferent" to the plight of apple growers, claiming that the marketing season of the fruit has started but the condition of a vital highway used for its transportation is in shambles.
"Yet another year has passed but the condition of Theog- Hatkoti road has further worsened and the apple growers are facing great inconvenience," former state Horticulture minister and state BJP vice president Narinder Bragata said. "I would like to ask the Congress leaders from Shimla district, including Horticulture minister Vidya Stokes, as to what have they have done to improve the vital road for apple transportation in past one-and-a-half-year."
He also attacked the Congress for "lowering" the duty on the import of apple. "Contrary to the election promise to increase the import duty to 150 per cent it (Congress) slashed the duty, creating stiff competition for local growers."
The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had raised the import duty on apples from 20 to 50 per cent on the request of then state government but the previous UPA government brought it down to zero per cent, he said. "Now we have urged the BJP-led government at the Centre if it is not possible to hike the import duty on apples in view of the international agreements, then apple must be taken out of it by declaring it as a special category produce," he said.