Mumbai, May 22 (UNI) Bharatiya Janata Party national general secretary Gopinath Munde has demanded Rs 40,000 per hectare as compensation to sugarcane growers whose produce is likely to remain uncrushed this season, as against the Rs 25,000 announced by the State Government.
Mr Munde, who led a farmers agitation over the demand and was hurt in a police lathicharge at Aurangabad recently, told reporters here today that around 50,000 tonnes of sugarcane are likely to remain uncrushed after close of the crushing season.
He said sugarcane growers in 8000 villages from eleven districts are likely to be affected. Mr Munde said that out of 164 sugar mills in the state, 30 had already closed the crushing.
Mr Munde blamed the State Government and the Union Agriculture Ministry for the present condition of the sugarcane growers. Last year, no permission was granted for sugar exports, while this year, there has been a bumper sugarcane crop. In a caustic remark, Mr Munde sugested to the Prime Minister to shift Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to the Sports Ministry as the latter was ''concentrating his energies more on cricket than agriculture''.
Mr Munde said the BJP will on May 28, hold demonstrations in all these 8000 villages and burn the State Government in effigy.
He said 14 lakh sugarcane cutters were willing to continue their work if sugar mills decided to extend the crushing beyond May 31. Mr Munde is chairman of the sugarcane cutters union.
Apart from Rs 40,000 compensation, Mr Munde demanded that sugarcane farmers should receive a grant of Rs 2000 per quintal of sugar and a loan at the rate of 2 per cent.
Mr Munde claimed that seven sugarcane farmers had committed suicide unable to face their current crisis.
Meanwhile, Mr Munde criticised Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil who has defended the police lathi-charge on agitating farmers in Aurangabad recently even though the Chief Minister himself and 21 other ministers had said it was wrong.