BELAGAVI: Sugarcane growers of North Karnataka have decided to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and seek his intervention to help them out of the crisis regarding their pending dues. Lakhs of cane growers are in a dire situation as most of the 72 sugar factories in the state have failed to clear their pending dues for the past several years.
According to farmer leaders, sugar factories in the state are supposed to pay Rs 2,400 crore from the past three years to growers as per the fair and remunerative price (FRP) fixed by the Union government, including Rs 1,182 crore by 24 sugar factories of Belagavi.
“We have lodged at least 500 separate complaints with the state Sugar Commissioner and Sugar Director in the past three years against sugar factories. Detailed information about which factory owed how much to the cane growers (as per FRP) has been mentioned in the complaints. Yet, the government authorities are unwilling to initiate stringent action to ensure the release of dues from the factories.
Deputy Commissioners of the respective districts have also failed to settle the issue locally by holding talks with sugar factory managements,” said farmer leader Shashikant Joshi from Kagwad. The Centre fixed Rs 2,700 per tonne FRP on cane in the state, but most factories paid much lower than that to growers.
Various farmer leaders attribute the cane crisis in the state to the “nexus between factory managements and the government.” Most sugar factories in the state are owned by BJP and Congress leaders who pressure the government against taking action on sugar factories. The government officials held meetings of growers merely as a formality, said a farmer leader.
“We have sought the PM’s appointment to bring the worsening cane crisis in Karnataka to his notice. We are forced to go to New Delhi only because the state government is unwilling to help the growers,'' a cane grower said. Farmer leaders plan to take about 100 sugarcane growers to meet the PM. However, the state government has assured farmers that their problems will be settled within the next few months.