HDK asks sugar factory owners to pay dues to farmers

H D Kumaraswamy

Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy Tuesday asked sugar factory owners to pay the dues to sugarcane farmers in accordance with the price that was agreed upon at the time of supply.

The Chief Minister, who held marathon meetings with sugar factory representatives, farmers and government officials at Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat here, has called a meeting of factory owners on 22 November.

Sugarcane farmers have been protesting in Belagavi and other northern districts for the last few days demanding clearance of their pending arrears by sugar factories for the cane supplied and announcement of purchase price for sugarcane for the current season.

They had intensified their protest Sunday by ‘gate crashing’ their loaded trucks into “Suvarna Vidhana Soudha,” the legislature complex in Belagavi, protesting against Kumaraswamy cancelling his scheduled visit to meet ryots.

Kumaraswamy said the state government would take all necessary steps so that owners pay the dues to farmers at the rate that was agreed upon. He also assured the cane growers that guidelines would be framed so that no injustice or discrepancies happen on weighing, measuring of yield, harvest and transportation, among others.

“The representatives of sugar factories who had come to the meeting said as their owners were not here they cant take any decision. I have directed officials to call a meeting of owners with me by November 22,” Kumaraswamy told reporters here.

Noting that fair and remunerative price (FRP) for 2018-19 season fixed by the Centre was Rs 2,750 per tonne, he said, officials have been asked to gather information about the total due that is pending with the factories.

“As per FRP, total Rs 38 crore is pending dues, but in Karnataka during the last few years, companies as per mutual agreement with farmers have been paying higher than FRP for sugarcane supplied. Few companies last year had promised to pay Rs 2,900 per tonne, but did not pay, so I have asked for details as farmers are claiming that it is way more than that,” he added.

He said farmers have shared with him about 13 grievances. During 2018-19 season, the chief minister said, companies have been directed to pay money to farmers in one go at fair and remunerative price (FRP) within 15 days.

Kumaraswamy said he has also asked the sugar commissioner to look into the “ex-field pricing related matter” that came up for discussion at the meeting. Assuring the farmers that the government would take all necessary steps so that they don’t face such issues in future, Kumaraswamy said he has asked the chief secretary to study the models adopted by Maharashtra and Gujarat.

He also said the government would discuss in the cabinet about withdrawing cases filed against farmer-protesters during the last 7-8 years.