At least 1,200 farmers applied for getting a permit order from the company and have been waiting for it for the last six months. (Representational Image)
Khammam: Getting a permit order from the ITC-Bhadrachalam Paper Board Limited has become a herculean task for the Subabul and Eucalyptus farmers in the district.
At least 1,200 farmers applied for getting a permit order from the company and have been waiting for it for the last six months. The delay has caused a lot of financial burden to the farmers. When the farmers approached the company officials for the order, they were usually met with the same answer —their number had not come.
It is being alleged that there is a huge gamble in selling the subabul wood to the company. Many of the farmers, vexed with the delay in getting the permit order from the company, are selling the wood to the middlemen depots located at Aswaraopet, Vinayakapuram, Dammapet, Patwarigudem, Mulakalapalli, Madhira and Burgumpahad.
A lower price is being paid by the middlemen to the farmers for their produce. The price of subabul per tonne ranges from Rs 2,400 to Rs 3,700 as per the quality. The depots being run by middlemen are paying Rs 500 less per tonne to the farmers. The same middlemen are selling the produce to the company at a huge margin. Permit orders are being issued to the middlemen, who have applied on behalf of the farmers.
Subabul and Eucalyptus are being raised in 1.22 lakh acres in Khammam and Bhadradri-Kothagudem districts. The company encouraged the farmers to grow the trees when they were facing trouble in procuring wood to make pulp. After the farmers raised more subabul, it is being alleged that the company began playing its games and trying to procure the produce at a lesser price.
Sattupalli MLA Sandra Venkata Veeraiah has written to the head office of the company at Kolkata on the woes of the farmers in selling their produce. There was no response from the company. The ITC office in Khammam is not solving the issues. P. Srinivasa Rao, a subabul farmer in Bonakal said that the middlemen were earning crores of rupees by selling the produce to the company that they bought from the farmers. "We are unable to find out why such a practice is going on?" he said.