Staff Reporter

TIRUPATTUR : Sugarcane cultivators in Tirupattur have decided to stage a protest headed by Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) founder S. Ramadoss on November 16, protesting against the construction of a private sugar mill at Banariamman in Chengam taluk.

The construction of the mill would lead to the closure of Tirupattur Kethandapatti Cooperative Sugar Mill, MLA T.K. Raja told reporters here on Friday.

Talking to mediapersons after a consultative meeting with sugarcane cultivators from Tirupattur, Krishnagiri, Jolarpet, Chengam, Kochampalli and Uthangarai, he said that farmers, who supplied sugarcane to the Kethandapatti mill, were against the private sugar mill coming up at Banariamman. The feared that a situation would arise in which the government would be forced to close down the Kethandapatti mill.

Mr. Raja said that at present, two-and-a-half lakh tonne of sugarcane was being supplied to the mill for crushing. The mill was under operation only for six months a year. The government had now decided to split the supply between the Banariamman mill and the Kethandapatti mill.

This would force the Kethandapatti mill to be under operation only for three months, which would affect the farmers and mill employees.

The management would find it difficult to pay salary to its 700 employees. Settlement to the farmers would also be difficult.

Stating that the protest would be held outside the Tirupattur Sub-Division Sub Collector Office, Mr. Raja said 25,000 sugarcane cultivators would participate in a rally, which would start from Sacred Heart College.

Farmers’ association, after several meetings, had resolved that sugarcane supplied for 2008-2009 should be registered.

They said that Agriculture Minister Veerapandi Arumugam had failed to increase the procurement rate of cane to Rs.1,550 a tonne. Machines at the Kethandapatti mill were outdated and needed replacement, they added.