CM favouring Sugar lobby, ignoring Sugarcane farmers: Sukhpal Khaira
Jalandhar – Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira on Sunday accused Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh of favouring sugarcane lobby and ignoring the Sugarcane farmers, who were demanding an increased State Assured Price (SAP) of Rs 330 per quintal for their crop. The AAP leader said that while the retail prices of sugar were at an all time high of Rs 4,100 per quintal, the Punjab government was denying the farmers even a meager increase. “The SAP of Sugarcane in Haryana is Rs 330 per quintal for early and mid yield varieties, the SAP in Punjab is ranging between Rs 285 to 300 per quintal. This is the fourth consecutive year when the state has failed to give any increase in SAP of sugarcane,” he said. Addressing a press conference, Khaira said that the denial of any increase in the SAP is the outcome of the powerful private sugar lobby that that owns seven sugar mills. “The CM was favouring the sugar mill owners lobby at the cost of poor farmers, who were committing suicides every day in Punjab,” he said. He said that it was a known fact that most of the sugar mills were owned by politicians namely, Rana Sugars at Baba Bakala, which is owned by the tainted Minister Rana Gurjit, Phagwara Mill by Jarnail Singh Wahad an Akali leader, Mukerian Mill by UP politician DP Yadav, Kiri Afghana by Ponty Chadha group, Amloh Mill by Oswal group etc. Surprisingly, the President of Private Sugar Mills is Rana Inder Partap Singh, the son of Rana Gurjit Singh. “It must be a lobby led by Rana Gurjit, who would have exerted pressure on the CM that not to increase the SAP,” he said.Khaira said that on the other hand the state owned nine sugar mills were running into huge losses of about Rs 150 crore, due to obsolete machinery, no backward and forward integration (co-generation plants and distilleries) and thus have higher cost of production. He said that the state government owned sugar mills owe Rs 71 crore as arrears to the farmers for the last cane crushing season. “Although there are nine government run sugar mills as compared to seven owned by private companies, yet 70 per cent of the sugarcane is crushed by the private mills. The state owned mills are virtually redundant,” he pointed out.
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