Sugarcane growers in the State would be forced to take a politically significant decision in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, if the Congress government failed to implement the promises made before the elections to the State Assembly, said B.P. Sheri, president, National Farmers’ Organisation, while demanding early announcement of the State Advisory Price (SAP) for the crop.
Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, he said the Congress had promised to announce SAP for sugarcane immediately if it came to power and also ensure payment of dues from sugar mills to sugarcane suppliers.
It was more than three months since the Congress came to power, but had no will power to implement its promises made to sugarcane growers, he said.
Mr. Sheri said the previous government had failed to enact the SAP Act for long. However, the Act was passed last year but the government failed to fix SAP for sugarcane for 2012–13. Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have been implementing the Sugarcane (Regulation of purchase and supply) Act, 1953 for long, a benefit which the successive State governments denied to farmers in Karnataka, he said.
The NFO has condemned the alleged irresponsible statement of Minister for Muzrai and Small Scale Industries Prakash B. Hukkeri that the farmers would get an advance of Rs. 2,400 a tonne of sugarcane supplied to sugar mills this year, considering the lowest sugar recovery of 7 per cent in southern districts of the State.
Mr. Sheri said the Minister should have ensured formation of the price fixation committee as per Section 3 of the Karnataka Sugarcane (Regulation of purchase and supply) Act, 2013 i.e., nominate five representatives from among the farmers along with other experts and allow the committee to take a decision on the sugarcane price at the earliest and before the commencement of the crushing season. The Minister had recommended names of his party (Congress) workers to the committee, which was not a fair decision, he said. Further, he said the Centre had already announced Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of Rs. 2,100 a tonne this year, which was Rs. 400 more than the FRP fixed for the preceding year.
Also, while sugar mills in northern India had offered Rs. 2,900 a tonne considering 9.5 per cent sugar recovery, the Karnataka government should fix a higher SAP considering the fact that the recovery in the mills in Belgaum, Bagalkot and Bijapur districts of north Karnataka achieved 12-14 per cent recovery.
The other demands of the NFO include immediate payment of arrears of Rs. 75 crore with 15 per cent interest for sugarcane supplied during 2006–07 and 2007–08 to sugarcane growers from the sugar mills as per the High Court order passed in 2012. The NFO also demanded payment of Rs. 74.56 crore dues from eight sugar mills in Belgaum district for the sugarcane supplied during 2012–13 when they had offered a price of Rs. 2,400 to Rs. 2,500 a tonne.