Lucknow: Around 500 farmers from Meerut and adjoining districts reached the state capital Lucknow on Thursday in buses, private vehicles and trains and launched a new front -- Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangthan (RKMS) -- at the cane commissioner's office, to demand pending dues from sugar mills.
The RKMS has been demanding interest payment on sugarcane dues pending with mills and has held several sit-in protests in Western Uttar Pradesh in the past few months.
Photo: Special Arrangement
Intensifying their stir in Lucknow, VM Singh, convenor of RKMS said sugar mills in UP were yet to pay Rs 11,000 crore cane growers. He said this is despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assurance during the 2017 Assembly elections that payment of arrears to farmers would be done in 14 days, or interest would be given if the amount was not paid on time. This promise lies unfulfilled even after the passage of four-and-half years, he added.
Speaking with NewsClick, Singh said farmers of Uttar Pradesh will take sugarcane payment only with the entire interest, while teaching them (B JP) a lesson in the upcoming Assembly elections (in 2022).
"In the 2017 UP Assembly polls, farmers had voted for BJP in the hope that their problems will be solved. Yogi Adityanath (chief minister) had assured us that cane issues will be sorted in 14 days. But after formation of the government, his promise has remained hollow and payment of thousands of rupees to farmers is still pending with the mills. His assurances proved to be mere lip service. Like last polls, the iron is hot ahead of elections and this is the time to strike. The government knows this. We will turn this anger of farmers into the government’s death knell," he said.
Singh said the Uttar Pradesh cane commissioner had issued an order for payment of interest in 2019 but the Yogi government didn’t comply with its own order.
The RKMS has held back to back 'mahapanchayats' in the sugarcane belt, including in Amroha, Bulandshahr, Bijnor, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur and Meerut, to mobilise farmers to participate in the march against three agri laws and cane dues and have now decided to intensify their agitation in Lucknow to mount pressure on the state government to ensure payment of interest on cane dues pending since 2011.
"About Rs 11,000 to 12,000 crore of interest on delayed sugarcane payment is due on mills which are running in profit but not paying farmers," Singh said.
He said the interest for the crushing season 2011-12 should be paid at the rate of 15%, from 2012-13 to 2014-2015 under the order of the Cane Commissioner, March 2019, as well as at the rate of 15% per annum from the crushing season 2015-16 to 2020-21.
Earlier, RKMS also handed over a memorandum to the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in which they have demanded payment of sugarcane crushing season 2020-21, payment of interest on delayed payment, and to raising cane MSP ( minimum support price) to Rs 450 per quintal in the wake of escalating prices of diesel, seeds, fertiliser and other commodities.
"The cost of sugarcane is coming to Rs.300 per quintal, due to which payment should be made at the rate of minimum Rs.450 per quintal in the wake of escalating prices of diesel, seeds and fertiliser," said Chaudhary Ramveer Singh, RKMS, Meerut district president, who along with his supporters reached Lucknow.
Meanhwhile, hundreds of farmers under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Balraj) faction also started camping from Thursday outside the sugarcane institute in Lucknow demanding cane arrears. They said they wouldn’t vacate the spot till their demands are met.
The UP president BKU (Balraj), Chaudhary Shaukat Ali Chechi, said that since 2011, about Rs 11,000 crore has been due to the state’s cane growers.
"By adding interest, this amount is up to Rs 23,000 crore. Farmers should get their money as soon as possible. Apart from this, he said that the price of sugarcane should be Rs 450 per quintal," he said.