Lucknow: Hundreds of farmers under the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), led by its Uttar Pradesh President Naresh Tikait, on Monday, November 2, launched a sit-in agitation at every district headquarters of the state, demanding the payment of arrears of more than Rs 8,000 crore with interest to sugarcane farmers by November 7.
Serving an ultimatum to the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government, the BKU leader said that they have given the last ultimatum until November 7, after which they will intensify their protest.
According to a report released by the Uttar Pradesh Department of Cane Development and Sugar Industry, the mills, till the end of season, owed a staggering Rs 8,000 crore of payments to farmers against cane supplies made during 2019-20. Four sugar companies/groups are holding up almost half of the cane payments to be made to farmers in the state. These four mills have paid only 50% or even lesser of their total cane arrears.
As per data till October 15, Bajaj Hindusthan, which has 14 sugar mills in the state, has paid 52% of its cane dues and has sugarcane arrears of Rs 2,800 crore, while Simbhaoli Sugars, with three sugar units, owes Rs 700 crore, having paid 37% of its total cane arrears. Another major defaulter is Modi Sugar Mills, which has two sugar mills, and has dues of Rs 500 crore and has made 40% payments, while Yadu group with Rs 98 crore pending has two units and paid only 26% of its total cane dues.
These four groups, owning a total of 21 sugar mills, owe Rs 3,578 crore of farmers, which is nearly 45% of the total cane dues. The remaining 98 sugar mills in the state have paid more than 87% of their dues, while only four sugar mills have cleared their total cane dues.
"Most defaulting mills are those from western Uttar Pradesh. Within this region, the mills that fall in the Shamil area — represented by Suresh Rana, the Minister for Cane Development and Sugar Industry in the Assembly — have some of the maximum outstanding,” said Dharmendra Malik, BKU state spokesperson, adding that farmers will not call off the protest until these dues are not cleared.
"Diwali is round the corner, but sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh are yet to clear the sugarcane dues. Therefore it seems that, without money, cane growers are heading towards dark Diwali. Sugarcane farmers have intensified their protest due to non-payment for cane they had given to sugar mills," Rakesh Tikait told NewsClick, adding that they will not allow sugar mill owners to celebrate the festival if they are not paid their dues in a week.
Also read: Sugarcane Farmers Protest in Muzaffarnagar, Demand Dues Worth Rs 1,000 Crore
Meanwhile, as reported by the Financial Express, the Uttar Pradesh cane commissioner issued recovery certificates against one sugar mill of each of these four groups, for not making timely payments to the farmers. The cane commissioner has also forwarded a certificate specifying the amount of arrears plus interest the due from the occupiers of these mills to the district magistrates (DM) where these mills are located, asking them to proceed to recover the dues specified and treat it at par with arrears of land revenue.