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Sugarcane farmers in UP demand payment of dues worth ₹14,000 crore

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on July 05, 2020 Published on July 05, 2020

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s claim that over ₹1 lakh crore has been paid to farmers towards sugarcane arrears in the last three years has sparked controversy with some farmers and their leaders urging the government to make arrangements for settling the cane payment due to them in the current season, too.

The CM said last month that since his government came into being in 2017, sugarcane arrears worth ₹1,00,800 crore were deposited in the bank accounts of 47 lakh sugracane farmers in the State, which he claimed was a record.

Many farmer leaders however argued that more important is the dues still to be paid. They need it badly because farmers, just like others from other walks of life, are suffering due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown.

Pending dues

“Sugar mills still owe sugarcane farmers ₹14,000 crore during the current season and an additional interest component of nearly ₹2,500 crore. It is important for farmers to have money in their hands now as they need to meet the expenses of kharif sowing which is currently underway,” said Choudhary Pushpendra Singh, President of the Kisan Kheti Sangh.

During the lockdown period, most family members who were working in urban areas have returned home with no work. Farmers not only have to prepare the land for cultivation but also have to take care of their families. “For this, they need money in hand,” said Jitender Hudda, a farmer leader from Shamli in the State.

Instead of nudging the mills to settle the current dues, the government is talking about the measures that it has taken in the past, he said.

“The CM’s statement is like ‘someone saying the company you work for paid you so much salary over the last 10 years. But what matters to you most is whether you got salary in the last three months,’” said Hudda.

Spreading misinformation

He also said the statement made by the CM did more harm to farmers. “With the news spreading far and wide, most people thought that farmers recently received ₹1 lakh crore in arrears. Farmers had tough time convincing those who have given them inputs on credit, or owed money to, that the CM was talking about the money given in the past. The fact is that 47 lakh sugarcane farmers have to get over ₹15,000 crore towards cane payment still,” Hudda said.

Sugar mills owned by the government have to pay farmers nearly 40 per cent of sugarcane arrears, said VM Singh, national president of the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sanghatan. “The 24 sugar mills owned by the government bought sugarcane worth ₹3,123 crore during the current sugar season. They have so far paid only ₹1,800 crore to farmers and still have to pay ₹1,280 crore towards cane payment. Not to talk of the mills in the cooperative sector,” he said.

Pushpendra Singh said that Yogi Adityanath government has hasn’t anything for sugarcane farmers in the State. The sugarcane price was not raised even once since he came to power. “For the last three years farmers were selling the cane for the same price — ₹315 per quintal. Even if adjusted for inflation of a nominal 4 per cent, the farmers should have got ₹358 per quintal. Moreover, sugar mills are getting an additional 1 kg sugar from the same quantity of sugarcane. Even after all these, farmers are paid the old price,” he said.

A representative of sugar mills, on conditions of anonymity, said the arrears will be paid once mills start selling sugar. He added that sugar sales have slowly started picking up with the lifting of lockdown.

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Published on July 05, 2020
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