Sugarcane farmers across state protest for pending dues in Pune

The protest march started from Alka Chowk and via Fergusson College road it culminated at sugar commissionerate
Members of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana sit outside Sakhar Sankul as they wait for their demands to be fulfilled in Pune(Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)
Members of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana sit outside Sakhar Sankul as they wait for their demands to be fulfilled in Pune(Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Jan 29, 2019 05:01 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | ByShrinivas Deshpande

Sugarcane cultivators from across the state demanding clearance of dues gathered in Pune to participate ‘Halla Bol’ agitation spent night on city streets after their talks with government representatives failed.  Around 10,000 farmers participated in the agitation. Cane growers led by Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana (SSS) leader and Member of Parliament (MP) Raju Shetti along with Swaraj India president Yogendra Yadav, took out a march at the sugar commissionerate. The police, however, stopped protestors from entering into the commissionerate and instead allowed their representatives to go inside for talks over demands of pending fair and remunerative price (FRP) amounted of 5,320 crore.

“We will not move from here unless our demands are met,” said Shetti, who was determined to spend a night along with other farmers.

The protest march started from Alka Chowk and via Fergusson College road it culminated at sugar commissionerate (sakhar Sankul), where the leader of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana Yogesh Pande, Jalinder Patil met the Sugar Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad and submitted its memorandum, seeking action against sugar mills who have not paid the dues.

Yadav said, “Cane farmers are not demanding any extra benefits, they are demanding their own money. According to law cane, millers should pay it on time, but most of them ignored the law. This will definitely affect the upcoming on Loksabha polls as BJP government has already lost Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh.

Shetti, on the other hand, blamed chief minister Devendra Fadnavis saying he went back on his promise.

“Chief minister (Devendra Fadanvis) had said that cane farmers should get FRP plus 200 extra and said that the government will do everything to clear the dues, however, till date, no dues have been cleared by the sugar mills,” said Shetti, while addressing the rally.

 There are a total of 191 sugar factories in the state and barring 11 sugar bill, around 180 have not paid the FRP dues to farmers which comes to 5,320 crore. 

  According to Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, it has been 90 days since the cane cutting, the cultivators have not received the dues from the sugar mills. So in order to seek answers, protesters today took out this agitation and met the sugar commissioner and put forth the demands.

Sugar commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said, “As of now we have two options, either to issue revenue recovery certificate (RRC) or to suspend the ongoing crushing license of factories, but as of now, we have not finalised anything. Suspension order of crushing licence will badly affect crushing season of this year. So after discussion with Swabhimani Shetakri Sanghatana, we will find out a viable solution.” 

If sugar commissioner will issue RRC against 180 sugar factories, it will help to recover at least 1,500 crore in the next 10 days claimed the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana. It has been 90 days that the sugar mills have started functioning however, no dues have been cleared and since no action has been initiated by sugar commissioner against sugar mills, we were compelled to hit the street today and now our demand is to initiate the action against the sugar mill owners. We demand that the government should seize the sugar from these sugar mills and sell it in the auction in order to clear the cane cultivators dues,” Shetti demanded. 

He said that unless and until the written order in this regard is not issued by the Sugar commissioner, the agitation will continue.

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