KARNATAKA

Sugarcane farmers threaten to disrupt I-Day function



Staff Correspondent

They demand Rs. 1,600 a tonne

Farmers sayA fresh purchase price for sugarcane has not been fixed although it is more than a month since crushing began at Bannari Amman sugar factory MInister favouring the factory management

MYSORE: Frustrated over the Government's failure to increase the purchase price of sugarcane, farmers in Mysore and Chamarajnagar have threatened to disrupt the Independence Day celebrations in the city on August 15.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, Kurubur Shanthakumar, president of the Sugarcane Growers' Association of Mysore and Chamarajanagar district said that farmers would not allow D.T. Jayakumar, Minister-in-charge of Mysore district, to hoist the national flag in Mysore on August 15.

"Farmers will prove their strength to the Government on Independence Day. Even fear of a bloodbath will not deter us," Mr. Shanthakumar said.

Ever since the regional conference on South Indian Sugarcane Growers Association was held in Mysore on May 23, the Government had been giving false promise that a reasonable purchase price for sugarcane would be fixed, he said.

"A fresh purchase price for sugarcane has not been fixed although more than a month has passed since crushing began at Bannari Amman sugar factory, which purchases sugarcane from farmers in Mysore and Chamarajanagar districts," he said.

The purchase price of sugarcane in Mysore and Chamarajanagar district is Rs. 1,015 a tonne and the farmers are seeking Rs. 1,600 a tonne.

"Our agitation will begin with a huge protest demonstration in Nanjangud on August 10," Mr. Shanthakumar said.

Farmers would protest against the "irresponsibility" of Mr. Jayakumar, who represents Nanjangud in the Assembly, he said.

The farmers have called for a Nanjangud bandh on August 13. All the roads in Nanjangud taluk, including the Bangalore-Nilgiri highway, would be blocked, he said.

Mr. Shanthakumar accused Mr. Jayakumar of dancing to the tunes of the Bannari Amman sugar factory management and throwing the interests of farmers to the winds. The association criticised the Centre for revising the Statutory Minimum Price (SMP) of sugarcane by a mere Rs. 75 paise this year.

Guiding factor

The SMP is the guiding factor for fixing the State Advisory Price (SAP) for agricultural produce. "The revision is SMP of sugarcane has been ridiculously low. It was increased from Rs. 79.5 paise per quintal during 2005 to Rs. 80.25 paise during 2006," he said. he association has urged Lok Sabha MPs from Karnataka to urge the Union Government to revise the SMP for sugarcane.

Ever since Independence, the Centre has set up six Pay Commissions to revise the salary and increments of Government employees, who constitute barely 4 per cent of the population.

"Every year, the Government employees receive increments in their salaries. But the Government has done precious little for the sake of farmers, who constitute 69 per cent of the population. The Government is serving the interests of the sugarcane factory lobby", Mr. Shanthakumar said.

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