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Sugarcane farmers demand better price, agitation turns violent


The agitation by sugarcane farmers seeking better prices for the crop turned violent in western Maharashtra…
sugarcaneMumbai: The agitation by sugarcane farmers seeking better prices for the crop turned violent in western Maharashtra, disrupting traffic at many places.

Farmers, led by Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna leader and MP Raju Shetty, want the sugar factories to declare Rs 3,000 per tonne as the first instalment for the crop.

Due to the violence, state transport buses are not plying in Sangli and Kolhapur areas. The protesters burnt tyres on the Pune-Bangalore National Highway yesterday, leading to disruption of traffic, apart from pelting stones at ST buses and burning effigies of political leaders.

Shetty said as most of the sugar factories in the state were run by politicians, they were depriving the farmers of their due. Last year, a similar agitation had led to violent protests in western Maharashtra and Marathwada.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan earlier this week led a delegation that called on the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. At the meeting, it was decided to form a three-member committee to look into the issue.

Union minister and NCP leader Praful Patel said, “Pricing of sugarcane is a state subject…Issue here is that market price of sugar has fallen drastically since last year.

“Sugar industry does not depend only on domestic factors, it takes into account global phenomena. So it’s difficult for sugar mills unless there is some intervention.

“I am told that Maharashtra government is considering how the state can support mills. Also sugar factories have not paid arrears of hundreds of crores to farmers on account of price of sugar going down and the mills are facing liquidity problems.”

Soft loans may be provided to mills so that they could pay the farmers, he said.

Meanwhile, Nationalist Congress Party urged the farmers to call off their agitation, as the Centre had formed a committee on the issue.

“We urge sugarcane farmers to call off their agitation. They should not indulge in vandalizing of vehicles and public property,” NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said here.

The committee — headed by NCP chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar — will recommend the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for sugarcane, he said.

Malik also denied that NCP was putting pressure on Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in order to stop any decision on the issue. “The Chief Minister is efficient and is capable of taking the decision. However, he takes some time to take the decision,” Malik said.

Maharashtra Relief and Rehabilitation Minister and Congress leader from Sangli Patangrao Kadam said that the farmers should get a suitable support price.

“We have held a meeting with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh….However, a decision is not expected on the issue immediately. Once the Central study group makes the recommendation, the state cabinet will take decision,” he said.


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