Sugar mills at Maharashtra’s drought-struck Solapur region resorted to an indefinite agitation on Wednesday at the Sugar Commissonerate headquarters in Pune over the delay in payment of Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) arrears for the 2014-15 period. Even as several mills in the region have begun shutting down crushing operations for the season of 2015-16, mills continue to owe farmers Rs 80 crore for the previous season.
One of the farmers said, they were not paid for the last one-and-half years and this was affecting their families as well. They resorted to agitation after some of their children were not permitted to sit for examinations because of non-payment of fees. Representatives of farmer organisation, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana submitted a representation to the senior officials at the commissionerate seeking interest along with the arrears. Sanghatana representatives said they have been recieving calls of support from farmers across the state and farmers have decided not to leave the place unless the government gives them an assurance. Farmers are demanding 15% interest on the FRP payments.
Sanghatana spokesperson said, mills from Nanded region have also indicated interest in joining the agitation. Seven mills in Nanded have already approached the high court over the delay in the FRP payments to farmers. Mills in Nanded region owe farmers Rs 25 crore. Of the 24 factories in Nanded that were given time to pay their dues, around 17 factories have made full FRP payments, seven factories have made part payments and others said they are willing to make payments soon.