Muralidhara Khajane

Apathy of authorities frustrating sugarcane growers

Some sugar mills have already begun crushing cane without fixing the Statutory Minimum Price

A delegation of sangha to meet Yeddyurappa

on Saturday

MYSORE: There appears to be no reprieve for the sugarcane growers in the State. Though Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa had cautioned the sugar mills that their licences would be cancelled if they failed to disburse Rs. 160 Additional Cane Price (ACP) per tonne in the meeting held on July 14, none of the sugar mills have bothered to comply with the direction.

While a few sugar mills reimbursed Rs. 100 of the Rs. 160, the rest have refused to pay even that amount. In fact, the sugar mills in the southern part of the State have already commenced crushing cane without fixing the Statutory Minimum Price (SMP). Frustrated with the lackadaisical attitude of the Government in fulfilling its demands, Rajya Kabbu Belegarara Sangha (RKBS), a representative forum of sugarcane growers in the State, has set a September 15 deadline for the Government to meet its long-pending demands. RKBS has also cautioned launching a State-wide agitation if their demands are not met. Speaking to The Hindu, president, RKBS Kuruburu Shanthakumar said that a delegation of sugarcane growers would meet the Chief Minister on Saturday to urge him to force the sugar mills to reimburse the ACP to farmers at the earliest, besides appealing to him to fix the SMP for sugarcane for 2008-09. Of the 57 sugar mills in the State, 33 are in the private sector and 22 in the cooperative sector.

Two others are managed by the Government and under a joint venture. Last year, the Government had leased eight mills, by succumbing to the sugar lobby.

Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha is also up in arms against the plans of the Government to lease out its cooperative sugar factories. Its president K.S. Puttanniah cautioned the Government that it would launch an agitation if the government goes ahead with its proposal.