File is pending with the Chief Minister; meeting likely by second week of December

Even as a section of registered sugarcane farmers of Puducherry Cooperative Sugar Mill Ltd continue to urge the territorial administration to give sanction to supply cane to nearby private mills, the government plans to convene tripartite meeting to fix State Advised Price (SAF) for 2013-14 soon.

Though the date has not been fixed for the meeting, a senior government official told The Hindu that a file has been sent to Chief Minister N. Rangasamy and the meeting, in all probability, would be held by the second week of December.

Cane farmers, who were upset with the non fixation of price for 2012-13, have been vociferously demanding the territorial administration to convene tripartite talks to fix the price for 2013-14. They conducted a series of agitations, including road roko to urge the government fix the price at least this year. Some of the farmers went to the Assembly recently and met the Chief Minister.

The government and the cooperative sugar mill have reportedly been facing pressure to fix the price as the mill had to start the crushing season immediately. The government has come to understand now that it is in a tricky wicket to keep farmers intact against the attempt of a section of farmers to supply sugarcane to neighbouring private mills in Tamil Nadu owing to the unhealthy condition of the cooperative sugar mill that has failed to pay the dues for a long time.

“An amicable solution will be arrived at the talks,” the official said.

Besides safeguarding the interest of the territorial administration and the mill, the meeting would fulfil the expectation of farmers. Though the farmers were demanding more than Rs. 3,000 per tonne of cane, the mill was not in a position to accept it as it was facing acute financial crisis. The price could be around Rs. 2,500 a tonne, sources said.

However, officials indicated that the price for 2013-14 would be based on Tamil Nadu’s price, which is yet to be announced. The price in Puducherry is expected to be slightly above the price fixed by Tamil Nadu, they said.

The government has not taken any decision on sanctioning permission for registered sugarcane farmers to supply cane to nearby private mills. It has to take into consideration the long-term benefit of cane growers and the cooperative mill. If the sanction was accorded, the mill would face shortage of cane against crushing capacity. It might ultimately lead to the closure of mill, sources said.

Meanwhile, the government is yet to clear Rs.10 crore, sought by the Puducherry Cooperative Sugar Mill from the Puducherry Distilleries Ltd under the inter-corporate borrowing method, for resuming operations at the sugar mill for the crushing season. Sources said the mill would be able to resume its operation in December only if it received the fund from PDL.