The PIL filed by a farmers’ body seeks setting up of stabilisation fund
The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the Centre on a farmers’ body plea seeking a stabilisation fund for cane growers to ensure that they are paid their dues within a reasonable time.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice HL Dattu sought reply from the ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare and ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution within six weeks on a PIL filed by the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association (CIFA).
The association has demanded implementation of recommendations by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Price (CACP) under the agriculture ministry which said that Sugar Stabilisation Fund be established by the government so that farmers don’t have to wait eternally for their dues.
“It is a good cause. This can be called a genuine PIL. The type of PIL which we get nowadays are different. When this type of PIL comes, certainly any court has to take note of it. This is a type of case which the court should look into. It is a sincere PIL,” the bench observed.
According to the farmers body, it is the bounden duty of the government that sugarcane farmers as a class are protected by providing statutory mechanism for receiving their dues which is adequately funded through an independent sugar stabilisation fund as recommended.
The association sought to pay the farmers a compensation for the “gap between the cane prices obtained as per revenue sharing formula (RSF) and the fair and remunerative price (FRP), in case where the prices obtained by RSF are lower than the FRP during 2015-16”.
The association raised the plight of the sugarcane farmers, saying that they are unable to make their ends meet and have been forced into quick-sand of debt trap which has led to several suicides.
The petition also sought that the FRP fixed under the Sugarcane Control Order, 1966 is implemented and the government should take required steps to ensure that payments are made to the cane growers within prescribed time of 14 days.
Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, along with advocate Sridhar Potaraju, submitted that hardship suffered by the cane growers due to non-payment of price by sugar mills during 2012-15 had led many of them to fall into the debt-trap. He said that the industry was facing uncertainty which needs urgent consideration.
“Due to financial crunch and losses incurred by sugar factories during last few years, over 30% factories are likely to stop crushing during 2015-16 season. This will have a catastrophic effect on the livelihood of petitioners, factory workers, harvesting labour and also transporters. Millions of tonnes of sugarcane may have to be burnt by farmers, and lead to more suicides,” the plea said.