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Union minister Nitin Gadkari has expressed concern regarding the sugarcane production in Maharashtra's Solapur district. The minister said if the cultivation goes on like this, a day will come when there will be no option but to commit suicide.

Gadkari said the Solapur district was once known as a drought-prone district. "But Babandada (Shinde), a local leader, told me that 22 lakh tonne sugarcane was crushed. If such crushing is happening in the district...mark my words...if the cultivation of sugarcane goes on like this, a time will come one day when there will be no option but to commit suicide," Gadkari said on a lighter note.

However, he praised the water conservation work done by the farmers in Solapur, which was once a drought-prone area. "Due to this work, wells are (water) charged, water availability has increased for farming and drinking. But there is more to do in this area," the Road Transport & Highways Minister said. Further, he urged all the people's representatives to construct lakes along the Surat- Chennai Highway to transform the water-deficient region into a water-rich one. "If we make water available for farmers, their income will increase by two-and-a-half times, and if the water is given by drip, it will be even better," he said.

He said that as there is drought in Brazil, there is a smile on your (sugar mill owners') faces. "But if the sugar production increases in Brazil, the rate here will come to 22 per kg and sugarcane remuneration to farmers cannot be brought down. To avoid this situation, produce ethanol from sugar syrup," Gadkari added.

Gadkari was speaking in Solapur city during the foundation stone-laying ceremony of national highway projects.

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