Caught in Ganna glut, Uttar Pradesh government seeks Centre’s intervention

BJP’s drubbing being attributed much to the annoyance of cane farmers in Kairana due to pending dues, the ruling party has reached out to Centre for intervention and help.

Published: 04th June 2018 09:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th June 2018 09:07 PM   |  A+A-

A farmer works in his sugarcane field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad (File Photo| Reuters)

Express News Service

LUCKNOW: ‘Ganna’ (sugarcane) prevailed over ‘Jinnah’ in Kairana and Noorpur is the common refrain explaining the body blow BJP got in recently concluded bypoll to the two seats in western UP. Cane has always dominated the narrative of the western UP politics.

BJP’s drubbing being attributed much to the annoyance of cane farmers in Kairana due to pending dues, the ruling party has reached out to Centre for intervention and help.

With opposition having wrested the seats by weaving its discourse around outstanding dues of sugarcane farmers, the BJP is finding it difficult to pacify the miffed farmers, especially, in the run up
to 2019.  

The party, which had promised payment to cane farmers within 14 days of selling sugarcane to the mills in its 2017 manifesto, has failed to keep it.

Consequently, the dues on sugar mills now stand to the tune of staggering Rs 13,000 crore yet to be paid to the cane growers in the sugar belt of UP.

Considering itself in a fix with cane growers already up in arms on one side and mill owners expressing inability to pay off arrears, the state government has requested the Centre to fix Rs 34,00 per quintal the minimum support price (MSP) of sugar. It has reportedly informed the Union Government that anything less than this MSP would make the payment of dues to the farmers all the more difficult.

As per the informed sources, principal secretary, sugar and cane development, Sanjay Bhusreddy has written a letter to the Centre seeking its help in compensating sugar mill owner in the wake of slump in
sugar prices. 

In the wake of dropping sugar prices from Rs 34,00 per quintal in October last year to a Rs 2600 in March this year, increasing cost of sugar production and cane prices, the Uttar Pradesh Sugar Mill
Association (UPSMA), an umbrella organisation of mill owners, has, through a letter,  shown its inability to pay farmers’ from the next season onwards.

The mill owners are believed to have informed the state government that they won’t be able to even crush the cane from the next season. Ready to face any punitive action, the mill owners have reportedly
sounded the state government of the situation.

Now, the UP government, basically, wants the Centre to fill the gap in prices between the production cost of the sugar and its market rates.

In 2017, at the time of portfolio allocation, keeping the issues of gargantuan dues of famers of sugar belt in mind, BJP MLA Suresh Rana from Thana Bhawan, an assembly segment under Kairana parliamentary seat, was made cane minister so as pacify the farmers of his area and handle their issues but the to no avail as the farmers are left with nothing but a few unfulfilled promises.

Notably, Yogi government had promised the farmers that mills will continue to purchase their cane till the crops were standing, but the mill owners refused to fall in line owing to market glut due to
over production of cane and sugar which is lying unsold in the mills due to the falling prices.

As the political observers feel, the state government remained insensitive to the issue of cane dues. “Had they been alive to the issue right from the beginning and wooed sugarcane farmers, they would
not have lost the western UP bypoll,” says a senior BJP leader.

Moreover, the probe ordered by CM Yogi Adityanath into sale of 21 sugar mills precipitated the situation against the saffron party. “At a time when cane growers were expecting the BJP government to
open the sugar mills, the decision to order probe into sale of mills left the farmers high and dry. It was their distress which the BJP paid for with Kairana and Noorpur defeats,” says a senior political analyst.

The state government has now put the ball in the Centre’s court putting the latter on horns of dilemma. In the given scenario, if the Centre fails to responds to UP government’s distress call, it is set to face further losses in 2019 Lok Sabha elections and if it comes to the rescue of UP, then other states will also
expect the same favour.

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