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Decision to revive co-op sugar factories hailed

By Our Staff Reporter

VIJAYAWADA, OCT. 23. The president of Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangham, Kolli Nageswara Rao, has welcomed the State Government's decision to revive sugar factories in the co-operative sector.

In a statement here on Saturday, Mr. Rao said deviating from the `anti-farmer' stand of the Telugu Desam Government, "which had subjected sugarcane farmers to severe hardships by shutting down sugar factories across the State on the pretext that the units were incurring heavy losses," the Congress party's decision to rescue them was praiseworthy. Mr. Rao, who is also the vice-president of All-India Kisan Sabha, said the Government should go a step ahead and fix minimum support price for sugarcane.

Sold at throwaway price

He said of the 36 sugar factories in the State, seven were under Government control while 18 were under the co-operative sector. Acting at the behest of the World Bank, the erstwhile TDP Government sold the Nizam's sugar factories that were in the public sector and other private co-operative units for a throwaway price on the pretext that they were incurring huge financial losses.

The Chandrababu Naidu Government's announcement that it intended to do away with a few more units had triggered panic among the ryots. In this backdrop, the decision of the Congress Government to revive sugar factories has come as a major relief to the sugarcane farmers, Mr. Rao said.The State Government had been denying support price to sugarcane farmers for the past three years citing the Allahabad court verdict that rejected a plea on this count, he said. "But the approval of MSP for sugarcane by the apex court should remove all hurdles in its implementation by the State Government," he added.

Import norms

He said liberalisation of import norms on sugar had paved the way for import of 100 lakh tonnes of raw sugar while back home, production of sugar dwindled in the absence of remunerative price for sugarcane.

Mr. Rao demanded immediate steps to protect the interests of indigenous farmers. He urged the Centre to enhance duty on import of sugar to curb its inflow. He also found fault with the recovery rate of the sugarcane price.

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