Acceding to the long-pending demand of cane growers across the state, Punjab chief minister (CM) Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday directed the agriculture department to immediately allow the sowing of CJ-238 as early sugarcane variety instead of mid-variety.
Senior Akali leader and former Punjab minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan, called on Badal at his residence, seeking his personal and direct intervention for quick resolution of various issues related to the farmers in general and cane growers in particular. Badal assured Sekhwan of immediate action on key demands.
Sekhwan briefed the CM that the cane growers across the state had been demanding the declaration of sugarcane variety CJ-238 as early variety instead of mid-variety since long. He impressed upon Badal to permit the cane growers to sow CJ-238 as early variety for a year till the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, finalised its trials to arrive at a conclusion regarding the variety.
Apart from this, Badal said the state government had pro-actively taken special initiatives to clear the outstanding dues of farmers expeditiously for supplying sugarcane to sugar mills. The CM said steps had been taken to ensure smooth functioning of sugar mills in the state.
Nine government-run sugar mills have already made payments to the tune of Rs 540-crore to the cane growers. Likewise, seven private sugar mills have already released Rs 988-crore and the remaining payments would be made to the farmers soon by the private mill owners.
“The state government took a loan of Rs 200-crore from the banks by furnishing state guarantee in order to clear dues of sugarcane growers,” said Sekhwan.
The state government would ensure payment of Rs 295 per quintal of sugarcane by the mills under all circumstances, added Sekhwan.
He clarified that the mills would pay Rs 245 per quintal, whereas the government would pay a subsidy of Rs 50 per quintal for the 2015-16 crushing season.
The cabinet, in a recent meeting, had also decided to waive off the guarantee fee of Rs 4-crore on soft loan arranged for the private sugar mills to enable them to clear pending dues to farmers. The interest on the soft loan would also be borne by the government for three-and-half years to ensure that private sugar mills pay sugarcane arrears to the farmers.
Expressing satisfaction over the smooth and record procurement of paddy, the CM said 143-lakh metric tonnes of paddy had already been procured in the state till date against the total of 118-lakh metric tonnes of paddy procured during the previous year.