BENGALURU: Sugarcane growers of Karnataka are certainly an unfortunate lot. On one hand, the crop has been drying up in fields due to acute shortage of water, and on the other, the price of sugar has almost touched Rs 37 per kg.
Karnataka Sugarcane Growers’ Association President Kurubur Shanthakumar told DC that nearly 50 per cent sugar cane grown across the state has dried up for lack of water. The worst-hit districts are Mandya, Mysuru, Belagavi, Vijayapura, Bagalkote and Bidar. Even irrigation pumpsets have turned silent due to lack of underground water, tanks and canals. And, bore wells which had little water were redundant due to power outrage. “Farmers are taking bath once in a week following severe scarcity of water. They do not have water even to drink let alone for the standing cane crop,” he added.
He observed that Karnataka had never experienced a drought of such intensity over the last four decades. “According to our estimate, nearly 50 per cent of the standing crop is withering. Their revival is dependent on the onset of early monsoon. Even showers during April missed the date thus aggravating the situation. The government has not cleared its dues of `850 crores to growers, which was promised to them in 2013-14 and 2014-15. The cane growers could be staring at dark days ahead if the monsoon fails this time,” he added.
Sugar minister M Mahadeva Prasad said sugar cane crop on nearly one lakh hectare was drying up due to acute scarcity of water because of which the production was likely to come down. He admitted a delay in clearing dues to cane growers, and said recovery notice was issued to 22 sugar mills which owe Rs 198 crores to farmers for 2014-15. The dues of around Rs 2000 crores for this year will be cleared before May. The outstanding of 2013-14 was delayed because of legal wrangles with courts staying the sale of seized sugar stock....