The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed by voice vote the contentious Essential Commodities (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2009, (sugarcane pricing Bill) after the Central Government assured the House that State governments would not be required to pay the difference of the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) for sugarcane set by the Centre and the State Advised Price fixed by the States. On persistent requests by opposition members led by Venkiah Naidu (BJP), Union Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar also agreed to revisit the enabling provision in the Sugarcane Control (Amendment) Order, 2009, that had allowed sugar mill owners to share their profits with farmers. The government has done away with the provision (5A) as, according to the government, the FRP takes into account the "risk and profit" to farmers.

DMK member T. Siva also pressed the government to retain the provision, while Mr. Naidu said retaining it will allow farmers to seek judicial remedy.

The Bill that was passed by the Lok Sabha on December 10 replaces the October 21 ordinance through which the Centre had introduced the FRP system. The ordinance had sought to place the obligation of higher SAP on State governments. The move had rocked Parliament and united opposition parties into organising a huge farmers rally in New Delhi.

When A. Vijayaraghavan (CPI-M) questioned the Minister on the recommendations on minimum support price in the Swaminathan Commission Report, Mr. Pawar said the report had not been accepted yet by the government.

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