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Tyre cartel's monopoly: Farmers' groups seek legal fight for better price for raw rubber

" A kilogram of rubber fetched Rs 230 in 2011; now it fetches as low as Rs 120. The LDF State government has fixed the base price of Rs 180 per kilogram "

Tyre cartel's monopoly: Farmers' groups seek legal fight for better price for raw rubber

The All India Kisan Sabha and the Kerala Karshaka Sangham that represents the largest rubber producing state of Kerala along with rubber farmers have sought intervention against the monopoly tyre companies that have formed a cartel against the interests of consumers and farmers. 

Vijoo Krishnan, AIKS General Secretary, Valsan Panoli, Kerala Karshaka Sangham General Secretary, and four farmers representing different rubber growing regions of Kerala have filed an intervention application in the Supreme Court.

The Competition Commission of India had fined the major tyre companies including MRF, Apollo, CEAT, JK Tyres etc. a sum of Rs 1788 crore for having formed a cartel in the price fixation of tyres even when the price of the raw material, natural rubber, was falling. The case is now pending in the Supreme Court as the companies have challenged it. 

At the same time, on enquiry, it was found that there was a cartel formation even in the procurement of natural rubber working in tandem with the tyre cartel. Their activities have ensured that the domestic price of rubber is pulled down through imports and market manipulations, said the two farmers' organisations in a joint statement. 

The Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN has hit the interests of rubber farmers in India in a big way,  and India's farmers are competing with highly subsidised farmers of the ASEAN countries, the statement said, pointing out, the present BJP government’s policies that have intensified similar policies pursued earlier by the Congress have been responsible for the dire straits that rubber farmers find themselves in. 

It said, a kilogram of rubber fetched Rs 230 in 2011; now it fetches as low as Rs 120. The LDF State government has spent about Rs 1,800 crore over the last few years to ensure that the base price of at least Rs 180 per kilogram accrues to farmers. 

According to the statement, more details have come out of complicity of BJP and Congress and conflict of interests, as the recent Electoral Bond Scam indicates. Both the parties have got crores as kickbacks from MRF,  Apollo Tyres, CEAT and others. Even the revelation that the Union Home Minister has shares in MRF is not coincidental.

Taking a strong stance against the Corporate Tyre Manufacturers and cartelisation, the AIKS and Kerala Karshaka Sangham have joined rubber farmers in taking up a legal battle against the tyre monopolies and have filed an application to intervene on behalf of millions of rubber farmers of India, statement asserted. 

The Kerala Karshaka Sangham had united eleven other organisations and held a joint march to the offices of MRF and Apollo Tyres on 30th December, 2023 with AIKS office bearers participating. A Parliament march also was held with the participation of rubber farmers from all the rubber growing States of India.

Now, AIKS Centre and the All India Kisan Council as well as the Kerala Karshaka Sangham have decided to file an intervention application in the Supreme Court demanding that the fine amount be utilised to benefit the farmers. The AIKS also feels that it is of utmost importance to investigate the cartelisation in the procurement of natural rubber. 

The fight against tyre monopolies that are harming the interests of farmers, workers, tapping labourers and consumers will be carried on legally and politically, it said, adding, the intervention is a reaffirming of our conviction and commitment on the matter.

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