Five thousand sugarcane farmers in Haryana are currently bearing the brunt of high sugarcane production and plummeting wholesale prices. The farmers from across 400 villages are currently protesting by holding multiple agitations across the state. In Ambala’s Naraingarh area, the farmers made use of dramaturgy to attract the attention of the Manohar Lal Khattar government. A shirtless procession was taken out on Tuesday to build pressure on the state and the privately owned sugarcane mills to provide the farmers with their due arrears.
The farmers had also organised a sit-in from August 22, inside the waters of Begna river for five days, which is still going on.
Speaking to NewsClick, Inderjeet of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) from Haryana, said, “This is a perpetual problem that crops up every season. The current protest is taking place in Yamuna Nagar area, the government has not bothered to respond to the farmers and they have had to use different ways to get the attention of authorities, be it marching shirtless or climbing up buildings.”
A Cabinet meeting is also scheduled to take place on August 30 over the issue. Currently, the dues to be paid to the farmers are estimated to be about Rs. 110-150 crores. However, activists on the ground believe that this amount is only the tip of the iceberg.
The government had promised sops to the farmers prior to the elections. Following high sugar production and plummeting wholesale prices, dues to be paid to the sugarcane farmers by the mills are piling up, worsening the crisis of the sugarcane farmers. India’s sugar production witnessed a steep hike of 6.7% till December 31, 2018. Activists on the ground believe that the worst is yet to come, given the high acreage of crop planting this time.
The payment crisis can worsen the farm distress, as the farmers’ incomes have been stressed following fluctuating prices of horticulture crops. The government is merely compounding the problem by refusing to link sugarcane pricing to the price of sugar.
The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) offered just two and a half times than that of collector rates in lieu of acquisition of farmers’ land taken away for the construction of highways, the farmers grappling with the agrarian distress are demanding that it should be four times than of collector rates keeping in view the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act of 2013.
Also read: Hike in Support Prices of Sugarcane Only an Eyewash