A three-day protest staged by sugarcane growers in Punjab has been called off following a successful meeting with Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann. The farmers were represented by Manjit Singh Rai of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Doaba). While the government had initially offered a State Advised Price (SAP) of Rs 388 per quintal, there are indications that it might increase to Rs 390 per quintal. However, the exact SAP agreed upon during the meeting remains undisclosed. The cane-crushing season, originally set to commence on November 21, has now been rescheduled to begin on November 30. The Chief Minister also announced that the SAP would be officially disclosed during the winter session of the Vidhan Sabha, starting on Tuesday.
Private Sugar Mills Concerned Over Increased SAP Costs
The private sugar mills, which handle 70% of cane crushing in Punjab, are skeptical about affording an increased SAP. Last year, when SAP was raised by Rs 50, the state government covered the additional cost, resulting in a payment of Rs 330 per quintal to farmers. With wholesale sugar prices currently ranging between Rs 3,700 and Rs 3,800 per quintal, private mill owners are contemplating discussions with the government to share any additional expenses exceeding Rs 330 per quintal this year. They argue that forcing higher SAP payments could lead to losses, especially as wholesale sugar prices are declining.
Relief for Commuters as Highway Blockade Ends
The Jalandhar-Phagwara stretch of the National Highway, obstructed by the protesting farmers at Dhannowali village, has been cleared after the demonstrators lifted their dharna. The decision to call off the protest came after Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s assurance that the SAP would be addressed during the upcoming winter session of the Vidhan Sabha. The private sugar mills, essential to the cane-crushing process in Punjab, are expected to engage in further discussions regarding the economic feasibility of the increased SAP.