(Says Cong govt driving farmers to suicide by not announcing SAP for current year)
(SAD will agitate to ensure farmers get their due)
Chandigarh, October 31 – Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today asked the Congress government to immediately announce an enhanced SAP (State Advised Price) of Rs 360 per quintal for sugarcane procurement in Punjab, saying the government was hell bent upon driving farmers to suicide by refusing to come to their aid in their time of dire crisis.
In a statement here, the SAD president said it was shocking that the government had not announced the SAP for this year as was the standard practice during the entire ten year period of the SAD-BJP government. He said during SAD-BJP tenure the government used to not only ensure remunerative price to sugarcane growers but used to offset the loss suffered by private mills due to increased SAP vis a vis the (Fair and Remunerative Price) fixed by the Union government. He said the SAD-BJP government gave an additional SAP amount of Rs 50 per quintal in 2015-16. “Private sugar mills were also facilitated soft loans of Rs 200 crores during SAD-BJP tenure with the government taking on the burden of the interest quotient”, he added.
Sukhbir Badal said the Congress government’s apathy towards farmers could be seen from the fact that instead of announcing an enhanced SAP above Rs 310 per quintal, the government had failed to announce any SAP at all. “This has resulted in private sugar mills, which crush 70 per cent of the total sugarcane in the State, getting together and announcing through advertisements that they will pay farmers as per the FRP of Rs 275 per quintal only. This is a catastrophic development for sugarcane farmers who face ruin in the face”, he said adding the SAD would not allow this to happen. “We are with the farmers and will agitate alongside them to demand an enhanced SAP”, he added.
Badal said the government’s attitude towards farmers bordered on criminal negligence. He said private sugar mills had not even surveyed sugarcane which was ready for crushing and not secured bonds farmers to ensure delivery of cane to the mills. “This means as of now there is no surety that this cane will be procured. This will lead to distress selling besides drastic reduction in sugarcane plantation scheduled for early next year”.
The SAD president said the Congress government was through these steps also reversing diversification from the wheat-paddy cycle taken by the SAD-BJP government which had led to an increase in the area under sugarcane. He said the area under cane had increased by 12 per cent to 1.08 lakh hectares this year but now there was a danger of a sharp fall due to the anti-farmer policies of the Congress government. Telling the government not to be blind towards the suffering of farmers, he said besides ensuring enhanced SAP, the government should also ensure payment of pending sugarcane dues of Rs 500 crore to farmers.