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Prices: Bitter farmers burn sugar crop

The agitation over sugar prices — the “low price” as announced by the Uttar Pradesh government and the “fair and remunerative...

Written by Virendra Nath Bhatt | Lucknow |
November 2, 2009 3:45:38 am

The agitation over sugar prices — the “low price” as announced by the Uttar Pradesh government and the “fair and remunerative price” (FRP) as announced by the Centre — is intensifying. On Tuesday,sporadic incidents of setting ablaze imported raw sugar bags and sugarcane crop by farmers was reported from Saharanpur,Meerut,Muzaffarnagar and Bareilly.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) volunteers,led by its president Mahendra Singh Tikait’s son Rakesh Tikait,raided the Shamli railway station in Muzaffarnagar and burnt bags of raw sugar imported by Bajaj Hindusthan sugar mill.

“The Bajaj sugar mill has assured us that raw sugar will not be refined at their mill at Thana Bhawan. The agitation to demand higher price of sugarcane will,however,continue elsewhere,” said Rakesh Tikait.

The sugarcane farmers also held a ‘mahapanchayat’ at Garmuketshwar in Ghaziabad district and vowed to acquire the right to determine the sugarcane price. The panchayat,besides rejecting the State Advisory Price (SAP) of Rs 165-170 per quintal as announced by the state government,

also criticised the Centre for the recent announcement of FRP for sugarcane at Rs 129.84 per quintal.

The FRP replaces the statutory minimum price (SMP) of Rs 108.76 that was announced by the Centre in June. The Centre announced the FRP by amending the Essential Commodities Act (ECA),1955,through an ordinance,and amendment to the Sugarcane (Control) Order,1966.

UP Chief Minister Mayawati,in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,has voiced her strong disapproval of the FRP,saying interests of about 40 lakh cane growers were ignored by the Centre.

The FRP will supersede the SAP since the Centre has wide powers under the ECA. Since the Act falls in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution,the states cannot legally challenge it.

The farmers’ meet also announced to hold a demonstration at Parliament on November 10 and later in Lucknow. It also resolved to not supply sugarcane to sugar mills at a rate lower than Rs 280 per quintal.

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