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UP Farmers Threaten Massive Protest on July 15 If Outstanding Cane Dues Not Paid

Farmers gathered at the grain market and marched in support of their demand. They also chanted anti-government slogans. Farmers claimed crop losses in wheat, mustard, and potato this year, and that sugarcane payments were now stalled.

Shivam Dwivedi
Farmers' Protest
Farmers' Protest

Farmers protested against the Mahmudabad co-operative sugar mill in the Sitapur district on Friday, enraged by the delay in sugarcane payments. They said the cane crushing season has ended earlier but payments totaling more than Rs 15 crore remained outstanding. The payment should be cleared within 14 days of the purchase, according to the rules.

Farmers gathered at the grain market and marched in support of their demand. They also chanted anti-government slogans. Farmers claimed crop losses in wheat, mustard, and potato this year, and that sugarcane payment were now stalled.

"The government has paid no attention to farmers' plight. We have been holding a dharna for nearly a month with no success "Protesters added their voices.

Kisan Manch district secretary Ambuj Srivastava stated, "Sugarcane farmers are forced to protest for their payments every year. Cane crushing ended on May 20, and payments totaling more than Rs 15 crore are still owed. Farmers, too, require funds to cover their expenses. We're only getting assurances. We have decided to stage a massive protest for the payment on July 15."

According to the farmer leader, the state government was unable to ensure that the company followed the Sugarcane Control Act's 14-day payment cycle. Bajaj Hindusthan Sugar Ltd (BHSL) and a few other mills had kept farmers waiting for even 12-14 months for the payments to be cleared, even after the payment schedule was tightened.

Sitapur has five sugarcane mills: Biswan, Ramgarh, Jawaharpur, and Mahmudabad. Mahmudabad sugar mill paid Rs 22 lakh for sugarcane, Hargaon sugar mill paid Rs 1.76 crore, Ramgarh sugar mill paid Rs 1.03 crore, Biswan sugar mill paid Rs 1.14 crore, and Jawaharpur sugar mill paid Rs 1.31 crore.

All four sugar mills have made full payments to sugarcane farmers during the crushing season. Mahmudabad Co-operative Sugar Mill has not yet made a contribution.

"After consulting with senior officials, we will provide information about Rs 15 crore of pending farmer payments as soon as we receive the fund," said Mahmudabad co-operative sugar mill Chief Executive Officer to farmers.

Similar Situation in Lakhimpur District:

The situation is similar in the neighbouring district of Lakhimpur Kheri. Farmers meeting under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) - Shakti Sangathan on Saturday called for a protest on July 15 if sugarcane farmers' outstanding payments were not cleared by then.

Farmers discussed the issue of a pending sugarcane payment of Rs 966.37 crore to four sugar mills, including the Bajaj Sugar Mill group, at a meeting presided over by BKU (Shakti Sangathan) district president Santosh Singh.

Singh claims that eight months of the sugarcane crushing season 2021-22 have passed without payment. "On December 13, 2021, the sugar mills agreed in writing to pay the payment in 14 days." Anil Kumar Singh, the district's Chief Development Officer, promised to pay the farmers within 14 days if the certification was implemented immediately. "However, the farmers have still not been paid after eight months," he said.

According to Ved Prakash Singh, district sugarcane officer, the outstanding payment dues to sugarcane farmers in the district totaled Rs 966.37 crore as of September 11.

"The total outstanding amount on four private sugar mills of lakhs of district farmers is Rs 966.37 crore. The Bajaj Hindustan Group's three sugar mills, Gola, Palia, and Khambharkheda, are due a cane price of Rs 803.66 crore. Meanwhile, the Bajaj group's accounts have become non-performing assets (NPA) because the company has been unable to repay bank loans. In such a case, how will the farmers be compensated?" asked Kheri farmers.

Meanwhile, in the recently concluded sugar season, the state's 120-odd mills purchased cane worth Rs 35,198 crore from farmers. According to records accessed in the state sugarcane department on July 6, the unpaid dues to farmers by all mills in the state stood at Rs 7,400 crore as of July 5. The largest defaulter is the privately-owned Bajaj Group, which operates 14 sugar mills in the state and is responsible for 38.5 percent of the pending dues totalling Rs 3,200 crore.

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