New Delhi: Kushinagar, once known as the sugar capital of the country. The region in Uttar Pradesh had 26 sugar mills before Independence, of which only five are left now.
The mills -- Kaptanganj, Dhadha, Sewrahi, Ramkola, Kaptanganj, Khadda -- which were operating, have also stopped working before the season ends. Upset over the closure of these sugar mills in the district, hundreds of farmers who have been left in the lurch have been holding demonstrations since June 10 in the district.
The protesting farmers said if the Bharatiya Janata Party-led governments at the Centre and the state fail to run the closed sugar mills, then their demonstration would be turned into a huge farmers’ movement. They also appealed to the government to restart the sugar mills immediately.
During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and the 2017 Assembly elections, the BJP, which took up the problems of sugarcane farmers as ‘top priority’ seem to have failed to solve their problems even after completing five years of governance.
The President of Bharatiya Kisan Union of Kushinagar, Ramchandra Singh, told Newsclick, "When Kushinagar was in Deoria district, the region had 26 sugar mills. Unfortunately, only five sugar mills are operating now, which have also shut down before the season without paying dues to farmers. More than five lakh farmers are affected due to the closure of sugar mills in the district. In 2014, Narendra Modi had promised the people of Kushinagar that within 100 days of the BJP coming to power, sugar mills in the region would be restarted. Five years later, there is no sign of any sugar mill restarting operations.”
Singh said the farmers had cast their votes for BJP hoping for a government that would not make false promises “we have been cheated."
Around 50% farmers of Kushinagar district are engaged in sugarcane cultivation and their condition is worsening. Arrears in payments to cane farmers by sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh are estimated at Rs 10,626 crore.
ONE LAKH QUINTAL OF SUGAR CANE DRYING
With Modi coming back to power, farmers had hoped that the ruling BJP would ensure these sugar mills would operate soon and clear their pending dues, but around one lakh quintal of sugarcane has dried up due to government negligence, they alleged.
Singh said, "Sugar mills in Laxmiganj, Ramkola (Khetan), Padrauna, Katkuiya and Chitauni shut over the past 10 years. In our region, Laxmiganj sugar mill produced the maximum sugarcane in the district, but due to closure of the mill, one lakh farmers are affected. Farmers are now burning the crop. Earlier, for 61 days we held protests but the BJP government did not even bother to meet us.”