Farmers protested against the Mahmudabad Cooperative Sugar Mill in Sitapur district on Friday, angered by the delay in cane payments. They said the cane crushing season ended early but payments totaling more than Rs 15 crore remained unpaid. Payment must be made within 14 days of purchase, in accordance with the rules.
Farmers gathered at the grain market and marched in support of their demand. They also chanted anti-government slogans. Farmers said they had lost wheat, mustard and potato crops this year, and payment for sugarcane had now stalled.
“The government has paid no attention to the plight of the farmers. We have been holding a dharna for almost a month without success”Protesters added their voices.
Kisan Manch District Secretary Ambuj Srivastava said, “Sugar cane growers are forced to protest for their payments every year. The cane crushing ended on May 20 and payments totaling more than Rs 15 crore are still due. Farmers also need funds to cover their expenses. We only get assurances. We have decided to organize a massive demonstration for the payment on July 15.”
According to the chief farmer, the state government has been unable to ensure that the company meets the 14-day payment cycle of the Sugar Cane Control Act. Bajaj Hindusthan Sugar Ltd (BHSL) and some other factories made farmers wait 12-14 months for payments to be cleared, even after the payment schedule was tightened.
Sitapur has five sugar cane factories: Biswan, Ramgarh, Jawaharpur and Mahmudabad. Mahmudabad sugar factory paid Rs 22 lakh for the cane, Hargaon sugar factory paid Rs 1.76 crore, Ramgarh sugar factory paid Rs 1.03 crore, Biswan sugar factory paid Rs 1.14 crore and Jawaharpur Sugar Mill paid Rs 1.31 crore.
The four mills paid the cane growers in full during the milling season. Mahmudabad Co-operative Sugar Mill has not yet contributed.
“After consulting with senior officials, we will provide information on Rs 15 crore of pending farmer payments as soon as we receive the fund,” the managing director of the Mahmudabad Cooperative Sugar Mill told the farmers.
Similar situation in Lakhimpur district:
The situation is similar in the neighboring district of Lakhimpur Kheri. Farmers’ meeting under the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) banner – Shakti Sangathan on Saturday called for protests on July 15 if overdue payments from sugar cane growers were not settled by then.
Farmers discussed the issue of a pending sugarcane payment of Rs 966.37 crore to four sugar mills including Bajaj Sugar Mill Group in a meeting chaired by BKU District Chairman (Shakti Sangathan), Santosh Singh.
Singh claims eight months of the 2021-22 sugarcane crushing season have passed without payment. “On December 13, 2021, Sweets agreed in writing to pay the payment within 14 days.” Anil Kumar Singh, district development manager, promised to pay farmers within 14 days if certification is implemented immediately. “However, the farmers have still not been paid after eight months,” he said.
According to Ved Prakash Singh, District Sugar Cane Officer, the arrears due to sugar cane growers in the district stood at Rs 966.37 crore as of September 11.
“The total outstanding amount of four private sugar mills of farmers lakhs in the district is Rs 966.37 crore. crores of rupees have become non-performing assets (NPA) because the company could not repay the bank loans. In such a case, how will the farmers be compensated?” asked the Kheri farmers.
Meanwhile, during the recently concluded sugar season, the roughly 120 mills in the state bought cane worth Rs 35,198 crore from farmers. According to records viewed in the state sugar cane department on July 6, unpaid dues to farmers by all factories in the state amounted to Rs 7,400 crore as of July 5. The biggest defaulter is the private Bajaj group, which operates 14 sugar factories. in the state and is responsible for 38.5% of pending dues totaling Rs 3,200 crore.
First published: July 10, 2022, 06:54 IST