The hike in sugarcane price announced by Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has not gone down well with various farmers' organisations, who have termed it as "betrayal" by the state government.
After the CM's announcement of the hike in sugarcane price by Rs 11 per quintal to Rs 391, farmers' organisation BKU (Doaba) president Manjit Singh Rai said the hike is too little.
"The hike in price is too meagre. It is a betrayal with farmers. We are not happy with the price increase," Rai said and demanded that the cane prices should be increased "as promised".
"During our meeting with the chief minister in Chandigarh last week, he had said Haryana has recently increased cane prices by Rs 14 per quintal and had assured that Punjab's increase will be by more than Rs 14 per quintal. So, we were expecting the hike to be at least Rs 400 plus," Rai told the media.
BKU Lakhowal leader Nachhatar Singh told Rural Voice that two years ago, based on the cost of sugarcane being Rs 388 per quintal, farmers were demanding to increase the price of sugarcane to Rs 450. Now even after two years, the price of sugarcane has increased by only Rs 11 to Rs 391. This is a very minor increase. The central government should also increase the SMP of sugarcane from Rs 315 to Rs 415.
He threatened that farmers will again be forced to protest if the government does not hike cane prices "as promised".
They have also demanded that the sugar mills in the state should be made operational immediately.
Meanwhile, members of various farmers' organizations in Doaba zone, led by Gurnam Singh, staged a dharna and blocked vehicular traffic at Dugri Chowk near Mukerian Sugar Mill, about 65 kilometres from Hoshiarpur.
Singh said that the protest was in response to the "non-operation" of sugar mills in the state and dissatisfaction with the "meagre hike" in the sugarcane prices.
The protesters gathered in front of Sugar Mill Mukerian and staged a dharna. Later, they moved to Dugri Chowk and blocked vehicular traffic by parking tractor-trailers across the road.
Singh said the farmers in the Mukerian belt, who suffered heavy losses due to floods during the rainy season this year, are still awaiting compensation for their damaged property, including crops. The floods had damaged their standing sugarcane crop also, he said.
Last week farmers held a demonstration on a national highway in Jalandhar but decided to end their stir after Mann's assurance. "As far as increasing the rate of sugarcane goes, Punjab has always been ahead," Mann had said last week.
Protestors under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha had blocked the Jalandhar-Phagwara section of the Jalandhar-New Delhi National Highway near Dhanowali village. The strike ended on the fourth day after a meeting between farmer leaders and the chief minister.
Neighbouring state Haryana had last month announced a hike of Rs 14 in the sugarcane price to Rs 386 a quintal, prompting the Punjab CM to assert that the hike the sugarcane price by Rs 11 per quintal -- taking the new rate of Rs 391 a quintal -- is the highest in the country.