9 sugar mills refuse to pay State-fixed price

Factories issue advertisement saying SAP not acceptable to them

9 sugar mills refuse to pay State-fixed price

 In open defiance of the government order, nine sugar factories in Gulbarga, Yadgir and Bijapur districts have refused to pay farmers a mimimum purchase price of Rs 2,500 per tonne of sugar cane as fixed by the State government for the crushing season 2013-14. 

Even as Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has sought to increase the State advisory price (SAP) to Rs 2,650, these factories have stuck to their guns of paying only Rs 1,800 per tonne. In fact, the managements of the nine sugar mills have not done this in a hush-hush manner but by issuing advertisements in newspapers.

Uncooperative factories

The factories that have refused to pay the State-fixed price are NSL Sugars Ltd, Bhusnur, in Aland taluk; Ugar Sugars Works Ltd, Nagaramalli in Jewargi taluk; Sri Renuka Sugars Ltd, Havalga in Afzalpur taluk (all in Gulbarga district); Core Green Sugars and Pules Pvt Ltd, Tumkur in Shahapur taluk of Yadgir district; Indian Sugars Manufacturing Co Ltd, Havinal in Indi taluk; KPR Sugars Mills Pvt Ltd, Almel in Sindhagi taluk; Jnanayogi Sri Shivakumar Swamiji Sugars Ltd, Hirebevanur in Indi taluk; Jamakhandi Sugars Unit-2, Nad KD in Indi taluk; and Manali Sugars Ltd, Malghana in Sindhagi taluk (all in Bijapur district).

The factories have stated that they will pay only Rs 1,800 per tonne as ex-field price in the first instalment and the real average cane cutting and transportation expenses will be paid as fair remunerative price along with the bill. 

The factories have also stated that if they are required to pay as per the revenue-sharing formula considering the total revenue as per the Karnataka Cane Purchase and Supply Control Act, 2013, the same will also be paid.

The factories have not minced words in their decision not to pay the price fixed by the government. The advertisement issued by them says: “The price fixed by the Karnataka Cane Purchase and Supply Control Board is not in tune with the Act and therefore it is not acceptable. 

In this background, keeping in mind the grave condition of cane growers and sugar industry, we request the government to pay Rs 700 per tonne as support price directly to the farmers.’’

Farmers’ meeting

Gulbarga Deputy Commissioner N V Prasad told Deccan Herald that all the three factories in the district have started crushing cane. He, however, was silent on the payment of price to farmers and the open defiance by the factories in paying the government fixed price. 

The cane growers at a recent meeting had brought to the notice of the deputy commissioner the refusal by factories to pay the fixed price and demanded action against them in accordance with the Act. “At the meeting, we complained to the deputy commissioner about advertisement issued by the factories and asked him to take action. He asked us to lodge a complaint in this regard,” said Devappa, a farmer who attended the meeting.

Positive development

Kalyana Karnataka Cane Growers’ Association president Jagadish Patil Rajapur said that the only positive outcome of the farmers’ agitation and recent developments is that the factories have stopped taking signatures from farmers on blank papers. 

When farmers insist on payment of new price, the factories ask them to get the same from those who have announced it “Farmers are not in a bargaining position with factories as their produce is withering away. They somehow want to sell sugar cane. They are being fully exploited by factory owners,’’ rued Jagadish Patil. 

A meeting between members of South India Sugar Mills Association (Karnataka) and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to resolve the sugar cane imbroglio remained inconclusive on Tuesday with the latter assuring the mill owners that he would meet them again after his New Delhi visit seeking central assistance to increase the purchase price for sugar cane.

The next meeting between the chief minister and the association will now be held on December 9 in Bangalore. Siddaramaiah is scheduled to visit the national capital on December 6 where he will meet Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and seek Central assistance to increase the purchase price for sugar cane.

On Tuesday, Siddaramaiah is said to have given the association members a patient hearing, who explained to him the reasons why mill owners are not in a position to pay Rs 2,500 per tonne of sugar cane to farmers as fixed by the government. 

They also impressed upon the chief minister that the formula of Dr Rangarajan Committee, which has suggested revenue sharing between the farmers and mill owners in the ratio of 70:30, was the best option and should be adopted. 

Dharwad DC to probe farmer’s suicide

The State government has appointed Dharwad deputy commissioner Sameer Shukla to probe the suicide of sugarcane farmer Vithal Arabhavi who consumed pesticide in front of the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha here last Wednesday.

Shukla has been asked to submit his report to the government within two months, according to a government order. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had earlier announced a magisterial probe into the incident. 

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