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UP: BKU Indefinite Protest From Jan 28 on Cane Dues, Stray Cattle Menace, Power Tariff Hike

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait urged farmers to gather in large numbers at inter college in Muzaffarnagar on Saturday along their tractors with mattresses.
UP Farmers Book.

File Photo.

Lucknow: Demanding payment of sugarcane dues, opposing forceful land acquisition and stray cattle menace, farmers are set to hold  an indefinite protest from January 28 at Rajkiya Inter College in Muzaffarnagar district. A Bharatiya Kisan Union leader said the protest would continue until their demands were accepted by the government.

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait urged farmers to gather in large numbers at inter college on Saturday. He also asked them to bring along their tractors with mattresses so that they could sleep there amid the cold.

Tikait told NewsClick that the current government had been collecting huge funds in the name of cow cess but no worthwhile efforts had been made to address the crucial issue of stray animals ruining crops and grazing on ripe fields. 

"Many issues, including payment of sugarcane dues, electricity price, problem of stray cattle and land acquisition will be raised in this indefinite protest," the BKU leader said.

UP Mills Owe Rs 4,632 Crore to Cane Farmers 

Sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh owed nearly Rs 4,632 crore to cane farmers as on December 30 for the crushing season 2021-22, according to the data of the Sugar Industry and Cane Development department on its website. Over 356 lakh tonnes of sugarcane has been crushed in the mills in the state so far, producing 32.20 lakh tonnes of sugar. A payment of Rs 6,343 crore has been made against the crop procured from farmers as on January 3, the website states. During the 2021-22 season, over 1,016 lakh tonnes of sugarcane was crushed against a payment of Rs 33,421 crore.

The dues for the 2021-22 fiscal have not been cleared. 

The cane crushing season runs from October to September.

"All mills, especially Bajaj-owned groups, are exploiting sugarcane farmers in the state. The government is not listening to the farmers' demand on clearing their cane dues. Out of 110 running sugar mills in the state, 20-21 mills have not even paid dues of last year to the farmers.  At present, an amount of Rs 4,832.49 crore is yet to be paid by mills to cane farmers. As per rules, the payment should be released within 14 days of selling the produce. The delay in payment has forced many to shift back to the wheat-paddy cycle. The lack of government support will compel more farmers to give up sugarcane farming," Dharmendra Malik, national spokesperson of BKU (apolitical) told NewsClick. 

The farmers leaders also raised the issue that even as the current cane crushing season 2022-23 is close to halfway mark, the Uttar Pradesh government is yet to announce the state advisory price (SAP) for sugarcane. The sugar mills are paying the cane farmers as per the SAP fixed for the last cane crushing season 2021-22.

The current SAP is Rs 350 per quintal for the early variety of sugarcane, Rs 340 per quintal for the general variety and Rs 335 per quintal rejected variety. They have been demanding Rs 50 per quintal increase.

"After a protest in Haryana, the government increased Rs 10 per quintal. The Yogi Adityanath government should increase the SAP as soon as possible," said Tikait, adding that the government is not fixing the SAP because the dues of the farmers will come out on every sugar mill and they will have to pay. 

Rashtriya Lok Dal, which counts West UP’s sugarcane farmers among its support base, has also announced its support for BKU's indefinite protest. 

Power Tariff Hike, Stray Cattle to Be Raised  

The hike in power tariff and stray cattle menace will also be raised by the farmers. NewsClick has reported earlier that several farmers died in biting cold, guarding their crops from stray cattle at night. 

Read Also: UP: 2 Farmers Die in Biting Cold, Guarding Crops From Stray Cattle at Night, Allege Families

"The government had promised to decrease the power tariff before the 2022 Assembly elections but has not fulfilled it so far. We will not remain silent until the government fulfills all our genuine demands," a farmer told NewsClick. 

The farmers said that instead of reducing the power tariff as per its promise made during the election, the administration started installing electric meters. Farmers in Western Uttar Pradesh had uprooted electric meters from their tube wells, dumped them on the premises of Paschim Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd (PVVNL) in a protest led by BKU, NewsClick has reported earlier. 

Read Also: UP: Farmers Intensify Protest Against Installation of Meters on Tubewells

According to the BKU, electricity is charged from farmers at Rs 123/HP in Haryana and Rs 175 in UP, whereas it is free in Punjab and Tamil Nadu.

Muzaffarnagar and its adjoining districts have been the epicentre of the agitation over the installation of power meters.

The farmers' unions  also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre and Yogi Adityanath-led state government of failing to fulfil the promise to solve the stray cattle menace. The government promised farmers to resolve the issue during Assembly elections.

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