UP: Kisan Mahapanchayat in Meerut Prepares the Ground for Delhi Chalo on March 20
Photo: special arrangement
Lucknow: Hundreds of farmers from across Western Uttar Pradesh gathered for a kisan mahapanchayat in Meerut on Friday to mobilise people to join the Samyukta Kisan Morcha’s scheduled Delhi March on March 20.
Farmers from different districts of Meerut division and adjoining districts including Bijnor, Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Hapur, Bijnor, and Moradabad joined the mahapanchayat outside the office of the divisional commissioner. Different trade unions along with farmers’ organisations, including Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), joined the mahapanchayat where the Tikait brothers were seen on the stage together.
BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, addressing the gathering, appealed to people to reach Delhi on March 20 in big numbers to ensure the success of the movement.
BKU’s Meerut division vice president Ravindra Dauraliya, speaking to NewsClick, said, "Members and leaders of different trade unions along with farmers’ organisations would stage a protest in Delhi against the government’s hollow promises regarding MSP, withdrawal of cases registered against farmers during the 13-month-long stir, and many other issues."
Dauraliya said that union leaders and workers had held meetings in villages to ensure maximum participation in the mahapanchayat.
The installation of electric meters on tube wells, sugarcane price hike, stray cattle menace, and pending cane dues were some of the key issues raised in the mahapanchayat.
The BKU leader Rakesh Tikait asked the CM to ensure payment to sugarcane farmers within 14 days of supplying the produce to mills and effectively control the stray cattle menace. He pointed out that half the current crushing season is already over, but the government has still not announced the sugarcane price despite demands from farmers.
"The government is neither complying with the sugarcane act nor the verdicts of Allahabad High Court by virtue of which the government was repeatedly directed to pay interest to the farmers on delayed payment," Tikait said at the gathering.
He further added, "The farmers are forced to supply cane to sugar mills without being aware of the price they will finally get. Not a single promise the BJP government made to the farmers has been fulfilled. We are moving to Delhi and will decide our next move after SKM calls."
The UP government has retained the State Advised Price (SAP) of Rs 350 per quintal for early sown sugarcane varieties, Rs 340 for general varieties and Rs 335 per quintal for rejects, for the 2022-23 crushing season.
However, there has been no official communication regarding the status quo.
Farmer leaders gathered for mahapanchayat claimed that Uttar Pradesh, which produces almost 48% of the country's sugarcane, has decided to keep the SAP at Rs 3,500 per quintal, which is the lowest in the country at 11%-13% recovery. Farmers were demanding an SAP of Rs 4,000-4,500 per quintal.
This was the second mahapanchayat organised in a month in Western Uttar Pradesh, a sugarcane belt. Last month, farmers from Shamli, Baghpat, Meerut, Saharanpur, Bijnor, and other districts of UP, Haryana, Punjab, and Uttarakhand attended the mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar.
The farmers’ leaders reaffirmed that the protest under SKM would continue until the Narendra Modi government accepts their demands, including a legal guarantee of minimum support prices (MSP), payment of sugarcane dues, an end to forceful land acquisition and curbs on the stray cattle menace.
Meanwhile, as many as 119 operational sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh carry huge arrears of cane prices to the tune of Rs 9,144 crore, including the previous year’s unpaid amount of Rs 699.47 crore, as per the official records of the state sugarcane development and sugar industry.
In the 2021-22 crushing season, the sugar mills procured a total cane valuing Rs 35,201.34, of which payment worth Rs 34,501.88 crore was made to cane farmers, and the remaining amount was carried forward.
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