Bother is brewing within the sugar belt whereas the farmers equip the antenna

Problems loomed in the sugar districts of Maharashtra when Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana – the peasant outfit led by former MP Raju Shetti – decided to paint outside the houses of state ministers to protest the late and partial payment of their sugar cane. Shetti’s outfit is part of the ruling MahaVikasAghadi and his stance comes even if there is no progress in relation to his nomination in the upper house of the state assembly.

Earlier this week, members of the outfit were taken into custody while protesting outside the Rajarambajpu sugar factory in Walva taluka, Sangli district. This mill, which is run by the family of NCP leader and Minister of State Jayant Patil, has decided to pay the fair and rewarding price (FRP) for sugar cane bought in installments. Of the 187 mills operating in the state, 97 have their farmers sign pre-harvest contracts that allow mills to pay their farmers. The government declared FRP in installments.

When members of the outfit were taken into custody, Shetti had gone to the protest site to lead the protest. The peasant leader announced at the time that he would lead a protest in front of the Sahyadri Cooperative Sugar Mill in Karad Taluka in the Satara district on March 22nd. This mill is administered by Balasaheb Patil, another NCP leader who is the state’s Minister of Cooperation. Shetti and his party men are demanding a one-time full payment of FRP and have protested the mills’ decision to pay it in installments.

In the final phase of the crushing season, the mills were in arrears of over 2300 rupees, which is a cause for concern for farmers. The sugar commissioner had ordered the seizure of land against 13 mills, the arrears of which would now be recovered as a loss of income. Shetti’s protest has a political perspective as the farmer leader is now fighting for survival in his own home truffle.

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