Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], January 5 (ANI): The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday asked the Punjab government to ensure outstanding dues of Rs 284 crores of sugarcane growers were released immediately besides calling for an increase in the State Assured Price (SAP) of cane.
The SAD asserted that if these demands were not met the party would launch an agitation to ensure justice for sugarcane growers.
A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting of the SAD which was presided over by its President Sukhbir Singh Badal at the party headquarters.
The meeting noted that it was a matter of concern that cooperative mills owed farmers Rs 188 crore including Rs 107 crore dues of the 2019-20 crushing season and Rs 81 crore for the ongoing season. It was informed that private sugar mills owed farmers Rs 96 crore.
The SAD president alleged that the Chief Minister was "impervious to the suffering of the farmers". "Even as cooperative mills were defaulting on regular payments to farmers, the government had not directed private sugar mills to clear the outstanding dues of farmers. All dues of farmers should be cleared along with the interest quotient."
"The Sugarcane Control Order and Clause 3 (3) of the Sugarcane Purchase and Regulation Act states that sugar mills must make payments within 14 days of purchase or else pay interest on the late payment. The government should observe this Act and ensure justice is done to the farmers," he said.
Stating that the government should increase the SAP of sugarcane in Punjab in the current season itself saying the State had not increased the SAP for the last three years, Badal pointed out that the SAP of cane was Rs 310 per quintal in Punjab, both Haryana and Uttar Pradesh were paying their farmers an SAP of Rs 350 per quintal.
He further reminded the chief minister that since the Agriculture portfolio was with him, he should not allow private sugar mills to break rules and regulations and go unpunished. "The sugarcane crop helped farmers diversify from wheat and sugar and in case the growers were not paid in time it would damage the diversification plans of the State besides leading to further distress among farmers and cause an agrarian crisis." (ANI)