Kolhapur: Protesters affiliated with the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana obstructed key highways in the Kolhapur, Sangli, and Satara districts — renowned as the state’s sugar bowl — on Sunday morning as part of their demonstration against sugar cane prices, reported The Times of India.
Raju Shetti, the leader of the outfit and former Member of Parliament, personally participated in the protest that disrupted the Kolhapur-Sangli highway at Hatkanangale. Additionally, major routes to Kolhapur city were barricaded, causing significant traffic disruption on the Shiye-Kasba Bawda road, connecting Kolhapur city to Pune-Bengaluru National Highway 48, for over an hour. Motorists were compelled to seek alternative routes to access or exit the city.
The chakka jam protests impacted the Shirol, Hatkanangale, and Karvir tehsils of Kolhapur district. In Sangli district, workers of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana impeded a major highway at Nandre village. Meanwhile, in Satara district, protesters blocked the Karad-Chandoli highway in Karad, leading to their detention.
At Ankali, along the Kolhapur-Sangli border, hundreds of demonstrators gathered, severely disrupting traffic between the two districts and resulting in extensive queues of vehicles on both sides of the Ankali Bridge.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana has been advocating for an additional Rs 400 per tonne for the sugar cane crushed last year, in addition to the fair and remunerative price already disbursed to the farmers.
Shetti asserted that sugar mills have reaped substantial profits from the stable sugar prices and ethanol sales. Despite three rounds of negotiations, the deadlock between the outfit and millers persists.
Addressing the media, Shetti revealed his anticipation of a study by the panel under district collector Rahul Rekhawar on the mills’ profits and the outstanding amounts owed to farmers. The panel is tasked with presenting its findings by November 21. In the event of continued obstinacy by the mills and the state government’s failure to intervene, Shetti declared intentions to block national highways indefinitely on November 26.
Shetti made it clear that farmers would not compromise on their demand of Rs 3,500 per tonne for the sugar cane crushed in the current season. Despite concerns among farmers about potential delays in harvesting, Shetti urged them not to worry, citing the recent rainfall contributing to the crop’s weight gain.