The harvested sugarcane will be transported to factories. The South Indian Sugar Mills Association (SISMA) had directed all the factories in the state to begin crushing the sugarcane, and the factories have fallen in line. The state Cabinet, which met at Kalaburgi last week, discussed the issue and decided to end the impasse.
The ministers held talks with the factory management and asked the factory owners to start crushing. They were assured that the government will help them financially within 15 days. The factories and the farmers have been at loggerheads over the price of sugarcane. While the farmers were demanding Rs 2,600 a tonne, the factories offered Rs 2,100 a tonne. The farmers had even obtained an order from the high court which had asked the factories to pay Rs 2,500 per tonne.
The matter came up for discussions at the state cabinet meeting held at Kalaburagi last week. Minister for IT/BT S R Patil said that the cabinet considered the fact that the fate of the farmers in north Karnataka depended on the sugar factories and that the factories should survive in the interest of the farmers. As such, the government has decided to compensate the factories, he added.
In Karnataka there are 65 sugar factories of which 58 are functioning. The cooperative sector has 22 factories, two are run by the government and 34 are privately-owned. Of the private factories 33 are owned/managed by politicians.
Belgaum district is stands first in sugarcane production in Karnataka accounting for 35 per cent of the state’s total production. With 21 sugar factories, the district produces 13 million tonnes of sugarcane every year, while the total production in the state stands at 35 million tonnes. Bagalkot has nine factories while Bidar has four, Vijayapura, Kalaburagi and Davanagere three each.
Karnataka has 2.5 million sugarcane growers and the government earns Rs 6 crore every year by way of tax from this sector.