The State government on Monday informed the Legislative Assembly that recovery notices have been issued to 18 sugar factories, including cooperatives, for their failure to pay the fair and remunerative price to sugarcane growers.

Recovery notices empowered deputy commissioners to seize factories and sell the sugar stock for meeting payment dues to growers. Eighteen factories are expected to pay a sum of Rs. 503 crore as dues.

In a reply over the debate on non-payment to sugarcane growers, Minister for Cooperation and Sugar H.S. Mahadeva Prasad said the Karnataka High Court stayed the notice issued to sugar factories directing them to pay Rs. 2,500 a tonne to growers, besides warning of penal action in case they failed to make payments.

Following the stay order, notices were issued to factories to pay FRP of Rs. 2100 a tonne, fixed by the Union government as per the Sugarcane Control Amendment Order, 2009. However, 18 factories had ignored the directive. Six factories had not even replied to notices, he said. As many as 48 factories had paid FRP, he said. After several rounds of meetings with cane growers, the price was fixed at Rs. 2,650 a tonne, including incentive of Rs. 150 a tonne. A sum of Rs. 398 crore has been released to factories so far, he said.

Dissatisfied with the government’s reply, Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party members staged a dharna in the House demanding that the factory owners fulfil the commitment to pay Rs. 2,650 a tonne of sugarcane or at least FRP of Rs. 2,100. An adjournment motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition Jagadish Shettar was rejected by the Speaker. Mr. Shettar alleged that the government had succumbed to the ‘sugar lobby’ and was committed to safeguard the interest of factory owners only.

BJP members demanded that Ministers owning factories had failed to implement the order and they should be dropped from the Cabinet.

While the BJP members continued the dharna on the first day of the 27-day session, Deputy Speaker Shivashankara Reddy adjourned the House for the day.

More In: Karnataka | National