Hundreds of sugarcane farmers of Cuddalore and Thanjavore districts in Tamil Nadu laid siege to the Viruthachalam Taluk office on Friday, June 21, seeking action against the sugar mill owner who has taken loans in the name of farmers from nationalised banks. The farmers under the Tamil Nadu Sugarcane Farmers’ Association affiliated to the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) were blocked by the police while they tried to lay siege to the Taluk office. The Tahsildar conducted talks with the leaders and representatives of the association and requested one week time to initiate action on the issue.
The farmers alleged that the owner of Shree Ambika Sugar Limited and Thiru Aarooran Sugar Limited in Thanjavore and Cuddalore districts has taken loans to the tune of Rs. 300 crore in the name of more than two thousand sugarcane farmers from nationalised banks. The farmers have been receiving notices from the banks for loans taken in their names allegedly by the owner of the sugar mills. The protesting farmers also demanded immediate action against the bank officials who colluded with the owners to get loans. The protesters also demanded that the four sugar mills be taken over by the government of Tamil Nadu.
The General Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Sugarcane Farmers’ Association, D Raveendran told NewsClick, “The four mills in Thanjavore and Cuddalore districts are managed by a single owner Ram Thiyagarajan. He has taken loans illegally in the name of the farmers with the help of the bank officials. This is a huge scam and we demand a CBI enquiry in to this scam. The state government led by Edappadi Palaniswamy has not reacted to such a sensitive issue so far which is a shame. The loans should be changed to the name of the owner and the farmers should be relieved of the debt. This offender should be punished without any delay.”
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He also said, “The General Manager of the mills, Senthil Kumar has fled the country after taking loans for the purchase of fertilisers, also in the name of farmers. The owners and officials commit the crime and the poor farmers are bearing the burden of the loans at a time when sugarcane farming is yielding very less profits. We have planned more struggles until necessary actions are taken by the state government to save the farmers.”
The other demands included the disbursal of Rs. 21 crore towards the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) announced by the union government in the year 2017-18 and the State Advised Price (SAP) as announced by the state government from the year 2013 till 2017. They demanded the disbursal of salary which is pending for the past ten months to the workers of the mills and the rent for the vehicles transporting sugarcane from the fields to the mills without further delay.