New Delhi: JD(U) on Tuesday attacked Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan over his remarks that some states fixing higher prices were putting a burden on millers and questioned why the NDA government was raising an issue in this regard when the State Advised Price (SAP) for sugarcane had been approved by Supreme Court.
"JD(U) strongly condemns Paswan`s views on the SAP, which is provided by the state to give some additional benefits to the farmers... The point is that when SAP has been approved by Supreme Court, why is the new government raising questions over that," JD(U) secretary general and party spokesperson KC Tyagi said in a press here.
Expressing concern over mounting cane arrears, Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Paswan had yesterday said, "While the Centre fixes the cane price, some states are fixing higher prices that is putting a burden on millers. There should be a holistic view on pricing."
The sugar industry has been facing a cash crunch due to higher costs of production and lower selling prices in the wake of surplus output over the past few years.
Currently, sugarcane arrears stand at about Rs 11,000 crore across the country, with the maximum of Rs 7,200 crore in Uttar Pradesh.
Paswan said mills can avail of additional interest-free loans of up to Rs 4,400 crore from banks, adding that it would improve their cash flow for making cane payments. The Centre had in December approved Rs 6,600 crore in interest-free loans for the sugar industry to clear its cane arrears.
Tyagi said that although in the last six months, sugar industry has got three packages from the government, the "problems of the farmers remain unaddressed till date".
He alleged that there is "no accountability of packages given in the past" whose "burden" is borne by the Sugar Development Fund, which was created for development of sugarcane production technology, research and development and to provide infrastructure support to sugarcane farmers.
"This money actually belongs to farmers. Then why is the government bailing out sugar industries out of this fund... Second, if the government can provide interest-free loans for industries, then why can the same not be provided for farmers ... Both UPA and NDA government policies favour sugar industries," Tyagi said.