The sugarcane farmers of Vellore district in Tamil Nadu are yet to receive their dues from the sugar mills run by the state government. The amount due is Rs 78 crore, which has been pending since the last four years up to 2017-18.
The district is home to three sugar mills located in Vellore, Ambur and Tirupattur run under the cooperative system. Around 9,000 farmers are share holders in these three mills. The Vellore Co-operative Sugar Mills Limited owes Rs 28 crore to the farmers, while the Ambur and Tirupattur Co-operative Mills share the remaining amount.
The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) had interfered in the issue which resulted in the disbursal of Rs 3 crore each from the three sugar mills to the farmers. The Vellore district Secretary of AIKS, Sakthivel told NewsClick, “The government continues to neglect the interest of the sugarcane farmers. The pending amount is so huge that the farmers are struggling to continue farming. The AIKS has continuously taken up the demand of immediate disbursal of the dues to the farmers and will continue the fight till all the dues are paid to the farmers.”
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“The share from the profits of the mills till the year 2009-10 has also not been paid to the farmers who were the share holders. The farmers are being charged Rs 100 per tonne over the past ten years in the name of an electricity generation project from sugarcane waste. There is no answer from the government on where this money is parked now. We have no information of such a project under consideration and we fear that the money has been used for some other purpose of the state government,” he added.
The farmers also allege that the molasses from sugarcane are sold at very low cost to alcohol manufacturing companies further deepening the crisis of the mills. They allege that high scale corruption is taking place in the sale of by-products.
The sugarcane mills which were running in profit till the last decade have been making losses owing to the apathy of the ruling party. The collective efforts of the state government and the co-operative ministry is required to bring out the farmers from the deep debt crisis.