Karnataka withholds privatisation of Mysore Sugars

Last week, when Mr. Bommai met the farmers, he had assured of an amicable solution.

The State Government on Monday announced that it would withhold moves to privatise the loss-making The Mysore Sugars Company Ltd. while an earlier cabinet decision to privatise would be reviewed based on an expert committee recommendation. It also announced that the factory would commence crushing from next season.

The announcement came from Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai soon after he chaired a nearly three-hour-long high-level meeting with farmers’ representatives and elected representatives from Mandya district here. Ministers J.C. Madhuswamy, Shankarpati Munenakoppa, Narayan Gowda and S.T. Somashekar were also present.

The privatisation move of the only state-owned sugar factory in the State that is nearly a century old has come under intense opposition from Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress while farmers had been staging dharna for weeks in Mandya.

Last week, when Mr. Bommai met the farmers, he had assured of an amicable solution.

“An expert committee will be set up to study the condition of the machinery and other technical aspects, finances needed to restart the factory and the working capital needed to make payment to farmers for sugarcane,” the Chief Minister told reporters. “To make the factory financially viable, the committee will also study the aspects of value addition of converting molasses.Whether the molasses will be used in distillery or for ethanol will be studied. Till then an efficient officer will be posted as the managing director of the factory. Along with him industrial experts will be appointed and the Auditor General’s help will be sought to audit accounts.”

The committee has been asked to file the report in three months. Once the report is received, Mr. Bommai said that the matter will be placed before the cabinet to review the earlier decision to give the factory on lease.

“The Government will restart crushing of cane from next season. I have told the officials that whatever money is required for overhauling of machinery to restart crushing will be provided.” He said that the discussion at the meeting revolved around the problems and ground realities, and farmers had expressed fear over trouble arising out of privatisation.”

An earlier cabinet had decided to hand over the factory on lease.

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