Karnataka MPs meet Pawar, ask additional SMP for farmers

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New Delhi, Feb 27 (UNI) An all party MPs delegation of Karnataka today called on Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar seeking an additional hike of Rs 200 in the Statutory Minimum Price (SMP) to help farmers overcome problems caused by fall in the price of sugarcane.

The delegation, comprising Union Minister of State for Planning M V Rajasekharan, Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes, Surface Transport Minister K H Muniyappa and former Union Minister Ananth Kumar, urged him to help the sugarcane farmers in Karnataka by providing them with increased SMP.

They told Mr Pawar that the farmers plan to hold demonstrations if their demands were not met.

The delegation also urged Mr Pawar to ask the oil companies to purchase ethanol from the sugar units for blending it with petrol to save on foreign exchange.

Seeking reduction in excise duty on molasses from Rs 750 to Rs 250 per tonne in view of the excessive sugarcane production during 2007-08, Mr Kumar said adequate working capital should be provided to the cooperatives through direct lending by the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) for sugar mills which have negative worth.

The state has 46 sugar units including those 16 of cooperative sector and two of the public sector.

Meanwhile, Mr Pawar assured them to up the issue with Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora.

BJP Lok Sabha MP from Tumkur, S Mallikarjunaiah said Mr Pawar had assured to consider the demand for providing an additional MSP of Rs 600 per quintal copra. Presently, the MSP was around Rs 1,200 a quintal.

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