VK Singh backs farmers opposing sugar decontrol | delhi | Hindustan Times
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VK Singh backs farmers opposing sugar decontrol

delhi Updated: Nov 02, 2012 21:22 IST
Former Army Chief VK Singh

Former Army Chief VK Singh on Friday backed a farmers body's demand for rejection of the Rangarajan Committee report on freeing the sugar sector and threatened to gherao Parliament next month if it is not met.

Addressing a press conference along with VM Singh, convenor of the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan (RKMS), Singh said the committee's recommendation on doing away with State Advisory Price (SAP) and cane reservation area will adversely affect the farmers of northern states.

He said the revenue sharing formula suggested by the committee is not fair and does not provide a level-playing field to northern states, where sugar recovery is below 9%. But the panel suggests 70% revenue be paid based on an average 10.31% recovery of sugar.

Singh demanded that the Centre should not fix fair and remunerative price (FRP) and current system of SAP and cane area reservation should continue. He said the farmers' body has no objection to other recommendations of the panel.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, both VK Singh and VM Singh said, "In case the report is not rejected, canegrowers of northern states would gherao Parliament on December 4 as a protest against the said report."

Asked whether he supports the call for a gherao of Parliament, the former Army Chief said, "I am endorsing a call which is in the interest of farmers."

On joining the agitation next month, he said, "We will cross the bridge when we reach there.....Whether that situation will come or not, we will see. I am quite sure the Prime Minister is competent enough to relook at the report."

Singh further said that he will support all those who work in the interest of the country. He was responding to a query about his presence at platforms led by Anna Hazare and Ramdev endorsing different issues.

He clarified that he has not yet decided on contesting elections. "Good people should enter Parliament. But I have not thought about myself yet."

When asked if he would share stage with Arvind Kejriwal, the former Army Chief said, "I will decide on it at a time when there is an invitation."

Singh defended his sharing stage with INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala on Thursday.

"It was Haryana Day and it was the birthday of Devi Lal, who was in the forefront to protect the interests of farmers. If I associate myself with any platform which has to do with farmers, why should anybody have any objection," he said.

In a representation made to the Prime Minister, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangahthan (RKMS) said the recommendations of the Rangarajan committee will only lead to misery for farmers of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Bihar.

Noting that yields and sugar recovery level in northern states is lower than southern states, it said, "Only southern cane growers would tend to benefit with the revenue sharing formula suggested by the committee."

The committee has submitted a "one-sided report" without taking views of canegrowers of northern states, it added.

According to the Rangarajan Committee's report, barring two key regulations with respect to fixing sugarcane price and sharing of 70% revenue by sugar firms with farmers, it has suggested giving freedom to mills to sell sugar in the open market and having a stable export and import policy.

Last month, food minister KV Thomas had said his ministry will take a time-bound decision on the Rangarajan panel's report.

Sugar is a regulated sector in the country.

The Rangarajan panel is not the first committee set up by the government to study reforms in the sugar industry. Recommendations of the Tuteja Committee and Thorat Committee have not yet been implemented.