The co-operative sugar mills of Punjab are in an awkward situation following an order of the cane commission about decrease in rate of CO-0238, a variety of sugarcane crop, in the midst of crushing season.
For the last one decade, farmers have been growing Co-0238 variety and before starting of crushing season, owner of sugar mills in Punjab claim that they got a written agreement with farmers, according to which the sugarcane rate has been pegged at Rs 295 per quintal.
The co-operative mills, in the meantime, have demanded immediate intervention of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and have sought his time to discuss the issue.
However, senior Congress leader and director of Punjab Sugarfed Rana Kuldeep Singh alleged the state government of providing profit to the private sugar mills by slashing the rate of CO-0238 in the midst of crushing season.
It was really shocking and injustice with the farmers, he alleged, that before the starting of crushing season the rate for CO-0238, which is an early variety, had been fixed at Rs 295 per quintal, but now Rs 285 per quintal would be given to the farmers.
He alleged that if the government failed to change its stance immediately, the Congress and sugarcane growers would hold a protest.
Ranjit Singh Jhingar, SAD leader and chairman of Nawanshahr Cooperative Sugar Mills Limited, said mills would be in great trouble if the government failed to revise its latest order of decreasing the rate of CO-0238 variety.
“I have received an email from the cane commission about decreasing the rate of CO-0238 from Rs 295 to Rs 285 on December 4,” said Jhingar, adding nearly 60% sugarcane of this variety has already been crushed since November 20, when the crushing season was started.
Jhingar added that CO-0238 was included in early variety along with COJ-085, COJ-83, COJ-64, COP-211 and CO-89003, and the rate was fixed Rs 295 per quintal, which was a wrong decision.
He said the chairmen of nine co-operative sugar mills located in — Bhogpur, Nakodar, Morinda, Budhewal, Gurdaspur, Ajnala, Fazilka and Batala — would meet the chief minister over the issue, else we would be in huge trouble if the government failed to revise the rate.
“With this change the farmers will hold a protest against the millers, and thus, the government will be disturbing the crushing season by implementing changed price as a result of which we will suffer heavily,” said Jhingar.
When contacted, state cane commissioner Ranjit Singh said the variety was not recommended by Punjab Agricultural University and the rate was slashed on PAU’s recommendation as the variety was placed among middle variety of sugar cane.