Demanding payment of arrears of sugarcane growers who supplied their produce to sugar mills around five months ago, hundreds of farmers blocked traffic on the Amritsar-Gurdaspur national highway on Monday for an hour and demanded the immediate settlement of their dues.
Raising slogans against the SAD-BJP alliance government in Punjab, these farmers led by the Congress MLA from Fatehgarh Churrian, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, also held a dharna outside the Batala cooperative sugar mill in the town.
Bajwa, who was accompanied by district Congress committee president Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, while speaking on the occasion alleged that though the state government projected itself to be the biggest benefactor of farmers, it had failed to pay Rs 103 crore to sugarcane farmers in the last five months.
The Congress MLA said that since different cooperative sugar mills in Punjab had failed to clear the dues of sugarcane growers, the latter were forced to raise bank loans for sowing their next crops.
He claimed that even the Batala cooperative sugar mill owed more than Rs10 crore to the growers as against Gurdaspur mill's Rs 22 crore.
Bajwa warned that he would lead farmers to hold a dharna outside the Gurdaspur sugar mill as well if the dues were not cleared.
Taking potshots at the Badal regime, he remarked that though the government was urging farmers to go for crop diversification the treatment meted out to cane growers painted a completely different picture altogether.
Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa also said that the state government decision to increase the MSP of sugercane by Rs 40 was "highly condemnable" in view of astronomical increase in prices of farm inputs like fuel, labour, insecticides, pesticides and seeds etc.