The government on Monday issued an ultimatum to sugar mills: ‘Accept the cane price fixed by the Sugarcane Control Board within two-three days or face legal action.’
After a day-long meeting with representatives of sugar mills, Law Minister T B Jayachandra said both parties failed to reach any conclusion on the issue.
Sugar mill representatives, who had approached the High Court in this regard, stuck to their stand expressing inability to comply with the price fixed by the Board, the minister said.
He said the total arrears due to farmers from over 60 sugar mills exceeds Rs. 3,300 crore.
Stating that the only option left to protect the interests of farmers is to initiate legal proceedings against mill owners, he said: “We had invited representatives of sugar mills for talks to resolve the issue amicably, but their stand is unfortunate. Mills had availed `1,067 crore interest-free loan, part of a bailout package announced by the Centre. But they are reluctant to pay off arrears due to farmers.”
Agriculture Minister Krishna Byregowda said the stand taken by sugar mills is not justified.
The Rs. 2,500 procurement price was fixed when the market price of sugar was around `26 per kg, but sugar is now being traded at Rs. 29-30 per kg.
“We want sugar mills to pay off all arrears with interest to farmers. Unlike previous years, sugar mills have been exempted from paying levy sugar at Rs. 13 per kilo. We will wait for a couple of days before taking harsher measures,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vidya Murukumbi, founder member of Renuka Sugars, said sugar mill representatives will meet again in a day or two and convey their stand to the government.
On Monday’s meeting, she said: “We are not unwilling to comply with the Board’s directions as the market price of sugar is improving. We will transfer this benefit to farmers.”
Sugar Minister Prakash Hukkeri said the government which had announced an incentive of Rs. 150 per tonne of sugarcane to farmers, had released around `380 crore and the balance of around `228 crore will be released soon.
Ask Sugar Mills to Pay Farmers, Krishna to CM
Bangalore: Senior Congress leader and former external affairs minister S M Krishna on Monday urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to take steps to ensure that farmers in Mandya district receive their dues from sugar mills for the sugarcane they had supplied.
In a letter to the CM, Krishna said the total dues to farmers from three sugar mills in Mandya district amount to Rs. 105.20 crore and they (farmers) are in distress.
Stating that early release of arrears will help the farmers to raise the next crop, he urged the government to take steps to release the incentive of Rs. 150 per tonne announced by the state government.