Stand-off over cane prices refuses to end

Stand-off over cane prices refuses to end

Mill owners want it fixed at Rs 225 per quintal,last year’s SAP was Rs 280

The stand-off between the state government and the sugar industry regarding the cane prices seems no closer to being resolved,even as Akhilesh Yadav dispensation has taken its first step towards deciding the state advisory price (SAP) for sugarcane.

The sugar industry,which was till now claiming incapability in paying anything above Rs 240 per quintal for cane,has now pitched the price at Rs 225 per quintal. The state advisory price (SAP) for sugarcane in the state for 2012-13 was Rs 280.

The mills have yet to start cane crushing for the current season,as the industry and farmers await state government’s SAP for cane.

Earlier this week,the cane commissioner held the first meeting with the stakeholders to decide on the SAP of cane for the current season. “The first meeting of all the stakeholders,including farmers,sugar mill owners and scientists,was held on November 8 under cane commissioner Subhash Chand Sharma,” said Bhupendra Singh Bisht,Chief Publicity Officer,Cane Commissioner’s Office. Bisht said that the next meeting will be held under chief secretary Jawed Usmani on November 12.


However,in the meeting,the UP Sugar Mills Association recommended Rs 225 per quintal of sugarcane saying,any price above this,should be paid by the government directly to the farmers. “We have been requesting the government that there should be a linkage between the sugarcane prices and the sugar prices as per the Rangarajan Committee’s recommendation,” said Deepak Guptara,secretary of the UP Sugar Mills Association. He said the mills are not in a position to start crushing unless the state government declares an SAP. Last year,a number of mills had started cane crushing operations by November 15.

UP has one of the highest SAP for sugarcane in the country with Akhilesh Yadav government declaring Rs 280 per quintal for 2012-13. The sugar industry claims it incurred a loss of Rs 3,000 crore in the past one year. With 2014 being election year,the industry is apprehensive that the government will further increase the SAP,which may be suicidal for the sugar mills.

Meanwhile,VM Singh,convenor,Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan,who has also moved the court regarding delay in payment,alleges that the government has started issuing recovery certificates against farmers who have not been able to pay their loans. “The high court had stayed government from issuing recovery certificates to farmers unless the mill owners have paid the cane farmers their dues along with the interest. In spite of the court orders,the district magistrates of western districts have started issuing recovery certificates against farmers,” claimed Singh.

“I have sent notices to principal secretary,sugar industries and other officials on Saturday,asking them to withdraw the recovery certificates against the cane growers,else I will approach the high court to initiate contempt proceedings against them,” he added. The private sugar mills still owe over Rs 2,000 crore to the sugarcane farmers for the canes purchased in 2012-13.