BELAGAVI: Though the State government on Friday reiterated its commitment to ensure that sugar factories pay all the dues of sugarcane growers, it said it would wait for the ongoing sugarcane crushing season to end in March for initiating any drastic action such as taking over the defaulting sugar mills.
“If we initiate drastic action now, when the crushing season is on, the growers would be affected as we may require a minimum of one month’s time to begin crushing operations on our own,” Sugar Minister H.S. Mahadev Prasad told the Legislative Assembly on Friday.
“We are treading a cautious path as we have 400 lakh tonnes of standing sugarcane crop in the State waiting to be crushed now,” he said while replying to a debate on the non-payment of dues towards growers by sugar mills.
Of the price of Rs. 2,500 a tonne to be paid to sugarcane growers, factories would be asked to pay Rs. 2,300 by December 31 and the remaining amount in two instalments, he said. When Opposition members wanted the Minister to specify the deadline for paying the last two instalments, he indicated that the government was planning to takeover defaulting factories after the crushing season ends in March. He said the State had written to the Centre to grant permission to take over the defaulting sugar mills under the Sugarcane Undertaking (Taking Over of Management) Act that provides for temporary taking over of private sugar factories by the government.
He alleged that the Centre had not responded positively to its request for extending a helping hand to bailout sugarcane growers in crisis through various measures including increasing the import duty on sugar from the present 25 per cent to 40 per cent.
Alleging that sugar factories owned by three of the Ministers in the Congress government were yet to pay dues to growers, the Opposition BJP demanded that the Ministers should be sacked immediately.