Jayalalithaa refutes Karunanidhi’s charges on cane pricing

Chennai, Feb 16 (Calcutta Tube) AIADMK general secretary J. Jayalalithaa Tuesday refuted Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s charge that her government kept sugarcane prices payable to farmers unaltered till 2004 and only allowed a hike a year later with an eye to assembly elections.

The former chief minister said the South India Sugar Mills Association had filed a case in the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court to restrain her government from announcing the state advised price for sugarcane.

‘It was my government which not only got the restraint order vacated by the Supreme Court in 2004, but also got an order stating that the states can announce their own price for sugarcane,’ she said in a statement.

The federal government fixes what is called the statutory minimum price, while states are allowed to ascertain the state advised price, which is generally higher, and this is what is payable to farmers.

Following the apex court’s order in 2005, the AIADMK government had announced a state advised price of Rs.1,014 per tonne for sugarcane, against the statutory minimum price of Rs.795 per tonne.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister had said Sunday that the previous AIADMK government, for four years, did not announce a higher price for sugarcane than what had been set by the central government.

‘It was only in 2005 with an eye to elections that the Jayalalithaa government announced higher price for the cane,’ he said.

But Jayalalithaa said it is the DMK government that has not hiked cane prices. Although a higher statutory minimum price of Rs.1,298.40 per tonne was fixed in October, the DMK government continues with the state advised price of Rs.1,437.40 per tonne.

She blamed the policies of the previous DMK government (1996-2001) for low sugar output during her rule (2001-2005) and claimed that her government’s initiatives had boosted production to 2.14 million tonnes and 2.54 million tonnes in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

She said the output has now dropped to 2.14 million tonnes in 2008-09.

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