Pay fair price, end impasse in 15 days: Karnataka CM to sugar units

Bengaluru: With the Belagavi legislature session looming ahead and the opposition BJP and farmer organisations likely to come out with all guns blazing on the sugarcane growers crisis, 

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy set a deadline of 15 days for owners of sugarcane mills to pay farmers the price agreed to between them and farmers which in many cases is more than the fair and remunerative price (FRP) and end the impasse before commencement of the legislature session in Belagavi next month. 

His directions came at the end of unsuccessful discussions with owners of sugarcane mills to resolve the FRP issue on Wednesday. 

The owners agreed to pay more than FRP as per agreement for sugarcane supplied during 2017-18, but insisted that they would offer only FRP for 2018-19. 

They explained that the problem exists only with sugar mills in Bagalkot while in other districts, including Belagavi,  farmers have been paid more than the FRP price prescribed by the government. 

The ones in Bagalkot have to pay around Rs 55 crores more than the price agreed upon to farmers. Mr Kumaraswamy directed them to either pay the amount within 15 days or resolve the issue with farmers through talks. The owners, however, contended that the due from their side to  farmers over agreed price was anywhere between Rs 400 to Rs 500 per ton of sugar cane. If farmers were willing to forgo Rs 150 of the difference amount, and the government offered to  Rs 150, the owners would pay the remaining amount, according to official sources.

At this juncture, Mr Kumaraswamy said the government would not foot the bill which was due to farmers from sugar mill owners. Either the owners pay up or resolve the issue amicably with farmers within next a fortnight's time despite repeated pleas by some of the mill owners for more time to settle the issue of arrears with farmers.  

The owners later raked up the issue of power purchase by the state government with the Chief Minister. While the government had agreed to pay Rs 5.87 per unit, it was paying only Rs 3.37 per unit. Mr Kumaraswamy assured to convene another meeting to address this, sources added. 

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