Sugarcane arrears have touched a whopping Rs 4,000-crore mark in Karnataka, the third- largest sugar producer in the country, as sugar mills resorted to delayed payment of fair and remunerative price (FRP) to farmers for the current crushing season. Even after nearly four months into the commencement of cane crushing for the sugar season (October 2015-September 2016) mills have paid up to 50-80% of the FRP to farmers across the state. This year, as many as 64 mills are operational in Karnataka, which contributes 13% of national sugar output. Reeling under the impact of depressed sugar prices and high cane costs for the last two years, sugar mills could not clear off their dues to farmers. For the year 2013-14, mills have to pay `298 crore and `295 crore arrears for 2014-15. For the current season, mills have kept pending payment of FRP amounting to `3,480 crore as of first week of February, according to data available with the Commissioner for Cane Development and Director of Sugar, government of Karnataka. The central government has fixed `2,300 per tonne FRP for 2015-16.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka Sugarcane Growers’ Association (KSGA) has urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to prevail upon sugar factories to pay arrears of over Rs 4,000 crore to cane growers in the State. “We have written to the chief minister and sugar minister to direct mills to speed up the payment of arrears. If the government fails to take action before February 29, we will launch a massive protest in front of the state secretariat,” Kurubur Shanthkumar, President, KSGA said.
KSGA has asked the state government to initiate action on the lines of the Maharashtra government, which seized the sugar stock and withdrew licences of factories which failed to settle arrears.