Will persuade those who are reluctant to fall in line, says Siddaramaiah

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has said a majority of the sugar factories are willing to pay Rs. 2,500 a tonne of sugarcane fixed by the State, and “we will hold discussions with the managements of the factories that are reluctant to pay the farmers this rate, and persuade them to fall in line”.

Addressing a press conference at the new campus of the Central University of Karnataka on the outskirts of Kadaganchi in Aland taluk of Gulbarga district on Saturday, Mr. Siddaramaiah said the State Advisory Price of Rs. 2,500 a tonne should not be a burden for the sugar factories given the benefits of exemption from road cess, purchase tax and VAT on sugarcane.

Stands to gain

Mr. Siddaramaiah said the sugar factories in the State stood to gain Rs. 300 crore from the exemptions given by the government. “The government wants these financial benefits to be transferred to the farmers,” he said. The government will pay Rs. 150 a tonne as incentive.

He said the Sugarcane Regulatory Authority 2013 provides ample powers to the government to fix support price for sugarcane and also empowers it to proceed with criminal action against factories that fail to implement the decisions of the authority.

Waving a black flag

Earlier, the Chief Minister was confronted with a farmer waving a black flag, and shouting slogans against the government’s “anti-farmer” policies.

A visibly perturbed Mr. Siddaramaiah listed out various welfare measures for farmers initiated by him after he took over as Chief Minister. “My government sanctioned Rs. 34 crore to revive three sugar factories in Mandya, Pandavapur and Brahmavar.My government had not only announced the support price for sugarcane, but also for paddy, jowar, ragi and maize.

Mr. Siddramaiah said the government was totally committed to the welfare of farmers. He said the demand made by farmers of Hyderabad Karnataka region to increase the Minimum Support Price of red gram to Rs. 4,300 a quintal would be referred to the Cabinet subcommittee.

Mr. Siddaramaiah said the government had decided to constitute a high-powered agriculture price commission consisting of experts from all fields to fix the remunerative prices for agricultural commodities, and this commission would start functioning from January next year.

“We just do not give lip service to the woes of the farmers like the previous government,” Mr. Siddaramaiah said.

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