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Haryana cotton ginners' strike leaves farmers high and dry
Oct '15
An indefinite strike by cotton ginners in Haryana to protest against the government's alleged failure to accede to their demand of the reduction of value added tax (VAT) on cotton, has left farmers in the lurch.

According to media reports, cotton farmers at the Sirsa grain market have found no takers for their produce due to the indefinite strike of cotton ginners across the state. Sirsa is the largest producer of cotton in the state, contributing almost one third of the total production of the crop.

Close to 150 cotton ginners in Haryana have gone on strike, which has led to non-purchase of crop being brought by growers in the open market.

The Haryana Cotton Ginners Association (HCGA) called for a shutdown of their units and no purchase of cotton.

HCGA President Sushil Mittal said the ginners have gone on indefinite strike as the state government has failed to resolve the issue of tax refund on inter-state sale of cotton crop. He claimed that about 5,000 bales per day are arriving in markets for sale but the ginners are not buying the crop.

Mittal said the ginners were losing Rs 100 per quintal on cotton because of non-payment of full tax refund on cotton.

Gurpreet Singh Nagpal, general secretary of the Sirsa District Cotton Ginners Association said that compared to their counterparts in Punjab, they were not being provided level field. Haryana ginners pay 4.2 per cent VAT on cotton and get back merely 2 per cent CST because they have to sell their product out of Haryana. Punjab ginners are able to recover 100 per cent of the VAT paid by them since the state has a large number of textile mills.

The ginners' fight with the government has left cotton farmers in dire straits. Farmers have been arriving at markets only to find no buyers. Cotton crop in Haryana has been severely damaged this season in a massive whitefly pest attack. The state's cotton production is expected to dip to 15 lakh bales against 24 lakh bales last year. Out of 5.83 lakh hectares where cotton was grown, 3.06 lakh hectares had suffered damage in the whitefly attack.

The Cotton Corporation of India (CCI), which buys cotton from farmers to save them from distress, has not yet decided whether to buy the crop. A CCI official said even if it decides to buy it, the government support price of Rs 4000 per quintal may not find takers among farmers when the market rate of cotton in Rs 4700. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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