Special Correspondent

LUCKNOW: The Uttar Pradesh Government on Monday defended the action taken against sugar mill owners and said the move was in the interest of the sugarcane farmers. It took credit for the growers getting a procurement price of Rs. 270 per quintal as against the State Advised Price of Rs. 165 and Rs. 170.

Sugar Industry and Cane Development Minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui said in the Vidhan Sabha during Zero Hour that it was due to the directives given to the district magistrates for facilitating more benefits for the farmers that the growers were given an enhanced price.

On the pending cane price arrears of the 2006-07 and 2007-08 crushing seasons, Mr. Siddiqui invited the Opposition members for finding a solution, but said it should be ensured that there was no violation of the Supreme Court’s directives and it should be in accordance with the rules.

He clarified that the reserve cane area of the sugar mills had been clearly demarcated and hence restrictions on cane supply could not be lifted. He also said there is no provision for cash payment.

Raising the issue, Hukum Singh (BJP) said the cane dues for 2006-07 and 2007-08 totalled Rs. 1296 crore and there should be no restrictions on the supply of the product and the farmers should be allowed to supply cane to the mill of their choice. Mr. Singh said the government should not meddle in the price war and expressed opposition to action being taken against the mill owners.

Stating that sugar was selling between Rs. 40 and 50 per kg, the BJP member assailed the government for not controlling sugar prices.