Maharashtra: Farmers Block Pune-Bangalore Highway To Demand Fair Sugarcane Prices

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Kolhapur, 23rd November 2023: Former Member of Parliament Raju Shetty, the leader of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, expressed dissatisfaction with the meeting convened by Cooperation Minister Dilip Valse Patil, stating that it failed to yield any positive outcome. Consequently, the agitation for fair sugarcane prices will persist, with Shetty announcing plans for a chakka jam on the Pune-Bangalore National Highway today (Thursday) as part of this ongoing movement.

Over the past six weeks, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana has been actively protesting, primarily demanding the disbursement of the second instalment of Rs 400 for sugarcane harvested last year. The conflict escalated in Sangli and Kolhapur districts as some factories began harvesting sugarcane, resulting in clashes involving vehicle burnings, marches, and counter-marches. In response to the intensifying situation, Cooperation Minister Dilip Valse Patil convened a meeting on Wednesday.

During the meeting, the organization insisted on the second instalment of Rs 400 for farmers, but sugar millers raised concerns about their ability to make such payments. A verbal altercation unfolded between the organization’s representatives and sugar millers, leading to a deadlock. Eventually, the organization proposed a division of the amount, suggesting that factories contribute Rs 100, with the government covering the remaining Rs 300.

Against the backdrop of the failed talks, a robust agitation is currently underway in western Maharashtra, spearheaded by Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana. Raju Shetty had warned of an indefinite blockade of the Pune-Bangalore National Highway if the last meeting with the Cooperation Minister proved fruitless. In line with this warning, the highway in the Shiroli area of Kolhapur district was temporarily blocked at ten o’clock this morning.

To manage the protest, a significant police force has been deployed at the site and along the entire highway. In anticipation of potential disruptions, the police have implemented diversions for vehicles on the Pune-Bangalore highway. The demonstration has resulted in the closure of the highway from Kagal Lakshmi Tekdi to Shiye area. Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana activists have raised slogans during the protest, and a substantial police presence is maintained to prevent any escalation of tensions.