A day after former Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa threatened to sit on a dharna against his party’s government for not resolving sugarcane farmers issue, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh assigned his loyalist Rural Development Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa to intervene and end the stalemate.
Bajwa organised a meeting with private sugar mill owners and later took them to the Chief Minister. The meeting finally decided that government would pay Rs 25 per quintal directly to the sugarcane farmers, while also announcing immediate release of Rs 65 crore towards the interest on loans taken by private sugar mill owners to clear pending dues of farmers. The private sugar mill owners were demanding for Rs 35 per quintal. They have agreed to bear Rs 10 per quintal.
With resolving of the issue, the Chief Minister directed the private sugar mills to immediately start the crushing operations, which have already been delayed by over a fortnight. Sugarcane farmers were agitating in Doaba and Majha for a couple of days.
As per a government statement subsequently, the Chief Minister has announced that the state would pay Rs 25 per quintal on sugarcane to the farmers directly out of the State Assured Price (SAP) of Rs 310 per quintal, while the remaining Rs 285 per quintal would be paid to them by the private sugar mills. The MSP of sugarcane is Rs 275 per quintal.
Amarinder has also directed the Financial Commissioner Development to ensure smooth commencement of crushing, along with meticulous implementation of the settlement reached between the owners of the sugar mills and state government, said the statement.
In line with the commitment made by the State Government in 2015 to bear the interest on the loan of Rs 200 crore taken by the private sugar mills to clear the payment of farmers for the 2015-16 crushing season, the Chief Minister also announced that the state government would immediately release the accumulated interest, amounting to nearly Rs 65 crore, directly to the farmers to partly clear dues of Rs192 crore pending with the private mill owners.
The private mill owners assured the Chief Minister that the balance amount due to the farmers for the crushing season 2017-18 would be paid by them directly at the earliest.
Cabinet Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Advocate General Atul Nanda, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Financial Commissioner Development Viswajeet Khanna, Principal Secretary Finance Anirudh Tiwari and Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh were present in the meeting.
The private mill owners at the meeting included Rajinder Singh Chadha, Kamal Oswal, Rana Inder Partap Singh, Jarnail Singh Wahid and Kunal Yadav.