Hail, rain cause extensive damage to apple orchards in Himachal
The Himachal department of agriculture and horticulture has instructed field officials to assess the damage to cash crops. The worst-affected apple orchards are in Kumarsain, Kharapathar, Jubbal, Rohru and Chopal in the Shimla district. It snowed in the remote Hango valley of the tribal Kinnaur district.
Hailstorm, thunderstorm followed by rain in the upper areas of Himachal, including Shimla and Seraj areas of Mandi, have caused extensive damage to fruit trees, particularly apple, which were in the blooming stage, and vegetables.
The state department of agriculture and horticulture has instructed field officials to assess the damage to cash crops. The worst-affected orchards are in Kumarsain, Kharapathar, Jubbal, Rohru and Chopal in the Shimla district. It snowed in the remote Hango valley of the tribal Kinnaur district.
“There are three to four inches of snow in Ropa and Hango valley in Kinnaur. Snow during the spring season is rare,” said Ram Krishna Negi, a resident of Giabong Valley.
“It happened in 2013 when it snowed in June,” he said.
“The hail has damaged fruit trees in a few pockets of the Rohru and Narkanda area. Hailstorms have damaged the fruit and flowers in the upper elevations. The hailstorm in the Narkanda area has damaged the flowers of apples, which were due for setting. As the weather forecast shows rain for two more days, it might hamper the pollination and fruit set process for a considerable amount in the orchards of higher elevation,” said Ashutosh Chauhan, a progressive grower.
Widespread overnight heavy rainfall in Himachal Pradesh amid an orange alert disrupted normal life while hailstorms caused extensive damage to the fruit crops in Shimla and fruit-growing areas.
An avalanche at Jakshang nullah near the North Portal of the Atal Tunnel, Rohtang, in the Lahaul-Spiti district blocked the flow of the river for a while. However, no loss of life has been reported.
The Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) has also issued an avalanche alert in Lahaul-Spiti and other high-altitude areas of the state after the tribal regions experienced fresh snowfall.
The Lahaul-Spiti police urged tourists and locals to avoid travelling in avalanche-prone areas.
Torrential rains in the Chamba district for the last two days have wreaked havoc. There are reports of damage to several vehicles due to a landslide in the Sapri locality of Chamba town.
About a dozen roads in the district, including the Pathankot-Bharmour highway, have been blocked.
An avalanche in Findpar nullah in the tribal Pangi subdivision destroyed a drinking water supply source causing a scarcity of water for 80 families in the Findpar village.
In the lower region, the heavy rains have damaged the wheat crop and main fruit crops like mango and litchi.
Director of Shimla MeT centre Surender Paul said that Kalpa in Kinnaur experienced the highest 46.6mm rainfall, followed by 42mm in Sarahan, and 36mm each in Chamba and Dalhousie, respectively.
Bhunter got 29.8mm of rainfall, Narkanda 29.5mm, Solan 26.6mm, Palampur 22.8mm and Kufri 21mm.
The wet spell is likely to be extended till the weekend with a yellow alert for thunderstorms and lightning in isolated places. In Shimla district, due to rain and hailstorm for the last several days, crops have suffered heavy damage at many places. In Jadun Panchayat of Narkanda, which falls under the Theog assembly constituency, apple plants have suffered a lot of damage due to the hailstorm. These days flowering is complete on apple plants. Flowers have fallen due to heavy hail. Apple branches have also been affected by the hailstorm. Theog MLA and Congress national spokesperson Kuldeep Rathore have demanded the state government to give proper compensation to the apple growers.
In a statement, he said the government should compensate for the loss caused to the apple crops.