March 26, 2021 1:48:06 am
Farmer leader and former MP Raju Shetti on Thursday threatened to start a protest outside the Sugar Commissioner’s office in Pune on April 5 if cane dues in the state are not cleared till then. Shetti, the founder of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana, made this announcement after discussions with the State Cooperation Minister Balasaheb Patil in Karad taluka of Satara. Shetti had earlier withdrawn the indefinite agitation he was to launch outside the Sahyadri Cooperative Sugar Mill in Karad, which is managed by the minister.
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After five months of crushing, sugar mills in Maharashtra have procured 828.27 lakh tonnes of cane from farmers for which they had to pay Rs 18,221.50 crore as the government declared Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP). However, mills till date have paid Rs 15,850.62 crore, running up arrears of Rs 2,385.06 crore. Of the 187 mills that have started operations this season, 97 have entered into agreements with farmers for part payment of FRP.
Shetti, whose politics has traditionally revolved around sugarcane and payments to farmers, had protested against the decision of mills to pay FRP in parts. Before the start of the present crushing season, Shetti has asked for full payment of FRP and Rs 200 per tonne after the season. However, barring mills in Kolhapur and some in Pune, most mils have decided to pay FRP in parts.
On Thursday, members of the Sanghtana were prevented from going to the mill site by the Satara police. At noon, when Shetti had started to travel towards the mill, he was stopped by the police on the Pune-Bengaluru Highway. The former MP was later shifted to the government rest house in Karad, where Patil met him to discuss the demands of the organisation.
Following discussions, it was decided that the state government will review the situation in Pune by the end of this month.
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