HDK warns sugar mills on farmers’ dues

HDK warns sugar mills on farmers’ dues

Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy during a meeting with cane growers and sugar factory representatives at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru on Tuesday. DH Photo by S K Dinesh

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy managed to come one step closer to solving the sugarcane crisis. After a six-hour-long meeting on Tuesday, the government decided to get sugar factories to pay farmers all the dues.

Kumaraswamy asked factory owners to come for another meeting before November 22 to finalise payment of dues.

It was also decided that new weighing and measuring equipment would be installed in all factories. “There are complaints that factories are shortchanging farmers through wrong measurement,” Kumaraswamy told a press conference after the day-long meeting with cane growers and sugar factory representatives.

“Factories cannot go back on their word. They should pay farmers whatever was promised. The government is powerful. Factories cannot act pricey. We have got their keys,” Kumaraswamy said. “I held a separate meeting with factories and it seems they are not ready to relent. But no one with decision-making authority had come. That is why I convened a meeting where those who can make decisions come.”

“For many years, factories have been entering into agreements — oral or written — with farmers, promising them to pay higher than the FRP. Factories have paid less than what was agreed upon due to dip in sugar prices and other reasons,” Kumaraswamy explained. “I have asked officials to determine factory-wise the exact amount due.”

Asked how the government will determine dues when many farmers had oral agreements with factories, Kumaraswamy said: “Oral or written, factories will have put up a notice on their premises stating the price they will pay.”

The government also decided that factories should start paying farmers the FRP of Rs 2,750 per tonne fixed this year.

Various cases booked against agitating farmers in the past seven to eight years will be withdrawn after Cabinet approval, Kumaraswamy told farmers. “This includes cases that were booked when farmers tried to enter the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha in Belagavi on Sunday,” he added.

Kumaraswamy also promised farmers that any loopholes in the Karnataka Sugarcane (Regulation of Purchase and Supply) Act, 2013, will be set right and the law will be strengthened.

“There is no ultimate solution yet. It is a continuous process. I have requested farmers to meet me directly, without an appointment, to discuss their problems. This is a pro-farmer government,” he said. Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader K T Gangadharappa said farmers were content with the day’s developments.

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