Ensure that factories pay SAP of Rs. 2,500 a tonne of sugarcane, government told

Sugarcane growers will lay siege to the Chief Minister’s residence here on June 20, demanding that the State government ensure that factories pay the State Advisory Price (SAP) of Rs. 2,500 a tonne of sugarcane.

President of the Karnataka State Sugarcane Growers’ Association Kurubur Shanthakumar on Tuesday said the stir would be indefinite and that “we prefer to fill jails rather than lift our siege of Mr. Siddaramaiah’s residence without getting an assurance about payment of dues to growers”.

Mr. Shanthakumar said that except for four sugar factories — Bannari Amman Sugar Factory, Mysugar in Mandya, Pandavapura PSSK, and MPM Sugar Factory in Shimoga — none of the other 56 factories in the State had paid the SAP.

He demanded that Shamanur Shivashankarappa, Satish Jarkiholi and S.R. Patil, who own factories, be dropped from the Cabinet as they had failed to pay the SAP fixed by the government.

To a question, Mr. Shanthakumar said the High Court had not given any stay order on the SAP but had stayed one of the clauses in the SAP order that if the factories failed to to pay Rs. 2,500 a tonne, the Deputy Commissioner could issue one week’s notice, seize the sugar produced in the factory and auction it to pay the growers with interest.

The High Court would pass the final orders on the petition challenging the SAP filed by some of the sugar factories on June 18.

Mr. Shanthakumar said that under the Act, sugar factories were liable to pay the dues with an interest of 15 per cent if the delay in payment was more than 15 days. He said the Union government had released an interest-free loan of Rs. 6,800 crore to sugar factories. Of this, Rs. 1,064 crore was released to factories in the State to clear the dues of farmers.

“But the factories used this interest-free loan for other purposes rather than clearing the dues of growers,” he alleged.

Outside DC’s office

Staff Correspondent from Bijapur writes:

Growers, who are demanding that sugar factories clear their dues, launched a protest outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office here on Monday night. On Tuesday morning, they cooked and ate food outside the office. The growers are demanding that the government direct factory owners to clear their dues. Factories in Bijapur district have paid only Rs. 1,800 for a tonne of sugarcane. A meeting of farmers’ leaders and factory owners, convened by the district in-charge Minister M.B. Patil on Monday, remained inconclusive as farmers refused to give more time to factory owners to clear their dues. The factory owners sought two more days’ time to respond to the demands and Mr. Patil too tried to convince growers to wait for a couple of days. But the growers did not accept the proposal and later gheraoed Mr. Patil. On Tuesday morning, several growers joined the protest. Mr. Shanthakumar addressed the protesters.

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