Government drags its feet on silk growers' demands

Government drags its feet on silk growers' demands

Ministers, officers avoid meeting protesters leaving police to face them

Auction time: Auction of silk cocoon in progress at Ramanagara market on Monday. DH PHOTO

After a-day long snap strike at Channapatna on the Bangalore-Mysore highway on Sunday, normalcy was restored in the district.  Apart from deploying large forces, the police had clamped ban orders under Section 144 of CRPC.

Sericulture Minister Bache Gowda met Chief Minister D V Sadananada Gowda early on Monday morning and apprised him about the fall in cocoon prices and the demands made by the farmers, while the latter left for New Delhi promising that he would take up the matter with the Centre.

The Chief Minister has also convened an emergency meeting in Bangalore on November 9, to discuss the crisis and find suitable solutions for the same. Bache Gowda, chief secretary and senior officials of the department will participate in the meeting.
The Sericulture Minister also said that Sadananda Gowda had asked him to place the proposals made by the farmers before the Cabinet.

Price crash

The cocoon prices plunged on Sunday as reelers did not take part in the trading process because of Bakrid celebrations.

Bache Gowda said trading had, however picked up from Monday afternoon, and that there was an improvement in prices.

He also appealed to the farmers not to be anxious, as the government was addressing the issue on priority. He said the State has placed demands before the Centre to announce minimum support price, increase the import duty from five per cent to 30 per cent and setting up of a contingency fund of Rs 200 crore to be utilised in times of distress.

“However, the Centre has not responded to any of these demands, resulting in the distress,” he said.

Highway, a soft target

The strike, like its predecessor in February threw traffic out of gear. Though the police diverted a large chunk of traffic from Ramanagara to Mysore via Kanakapura on Sunday, motorists who reached Channapatna were left with no option but to wait for a few hours, until the protestors called off their strike.

Police officials said they could do little, as the protests caught them off guard. They said more often than not, top officers and ministers avoid meeting the striking farmers, leaving only the police to deal with the agitators.

Officials said they could only divert traffic wherever possible during such circumstances.
On Monday, however, anticipating trouble at the Ramanagara cocoon market, the district administration ensured that the protestors didn’t take to the streets and disrupt traffic again.

The police had made additional security arrangements having deployed reserve police vans outside the market.  

Bayya Reddy, State General Secretary and Organising Convenor of the All India Struggle Committee against Duty Free Import of Silk, said the 8-10 organizations fighting for the rights of the people in the sericulture sector, would in future ensure that traffic on the highway is not inconvenienced.

“We do apologise to the vehicle users, and assure them that henceforth we will make concerted efforts not to block the highway,” he added.