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Kolhapur: Ahead of Lok Sabha election, a crisis in the sugar industry is refusing to die down. The government does not want to disappoint sugarcane growers, who are one of the major vote banks. To win their confidence, Govt has taken action against few mills who failed to pay the sugarcane arrears. But still many mills are yet to make full payment to cane growers.
Shetkari Sanghatana founder-president Raghunath Dada Patil has intensified protests against the Centre, state governments and sugar mills. He said that their ongoing ‘dharna’ agitation would continue in front of the Sugar Commissioner’s office in Pune until the fulfillment of their demands by the state government and sugar mill owners. The agitation has been going on against mills since January 25.
Patil criticised the government for neglecting the farmers’ demand of payment of FRP (fair and remunerative price) in one installment as per the law. The rule mandates that FRP amount should be deposited to the farmers’ bank accounts within 14 days after the sugarcane harvest is handed over to the factory owners, but millers failed to do so. They are citing their inability to pay farmers the actual FRP, due to falling prices of sugar in the domestic market.
Patil also attacked the sugar millers for alleged violation of the law in this regard and accused them of giving different prices for the crop to both members and non-members in contravention of a high court order.
Pointing that total FRP of Rs 1,236 crore for the year 2017-18 and Rs 1,207 crore in 2018-19 has been outstanding from the millers, he demanded that the farmers should get it with 15 per cent interest as per law. Else their agitation would continue till implementation of their demands, he added.
According to ISMA, it was estimated that cane price arrears across the country had reached about Rs 20,000 crore at the end of January 2019.
(With agency inputs)
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