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Sugar price policy unites Oppn

delhi Updated: Nov 17, 2009 00:44 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times
Sugar price policy

A new pricing scheme for sugarcane has united the Opposition — ahead of Parliament’s winter session — against the Centre’s FRP (Fair and Remunerative Price) policy.

With farmers’ fury hitting the streets, the BJP won’t mind joining hands with other parties — the Left, Samajwadi Party and even the Rashtriya Janata Dal — to oppose the FRP ordinance in Parliament.

Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, who is spearheading the agitation of farmers, has spoken to Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat and Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh.

Jaitley assured him that the BJP would not allow the FRP ordinance to be passed in Parliament. The BJP is counting on UPA’s allies like the DMK and RJD to oppose the policy.

The Opposition parties, who are accusing Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar of siding with millers and denying a fair price to farmers, may take up the issue on the first day of Parliament, November 19.

Under the new policy, the Centre issued the FRP ordinance on October 21 for the new pricing system. It replaced the Statutory Minimum Price (SMP) with the FRP. It set the sugarcane FRP at Rs 1,298.40 a tonne linked to a sugar recovery of 9.5 per cent and an incentive of Rs 12.70 for every 0.1% higher recovery.

It also said that if a state government announced a higher price over the FRP, it would have to bear the additional cost and pay the farmers directly.

Farmers in UP have rejected the FRP system of payment, saying the price fixed by the Centre is less than what millers paid last year (Rs 140 a quintal). Under the FRP, the millers have to pay the difference if the states fix higher sugarcane price.

UP farmers have stopped supplies to millers, bringing sugar production to a halt — which prompted Pawar to ask mills to pay more for the crop. The farmers demand Rs 280 per quintal.

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