Lucknow Sep 9: As the deadline for clearing sugarcane dues set by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath comes to an end, mill owners in Uttar Pradesh face the prospect of FIRs being registered against them.
Till date, the sugar mills in UP has to pay Rs 6322.32 crore to the cane growers of their produce during the previous crushing season. The fresh crushing season is expected to commence from last week of October next and it is expected that the entire dues would not be cleared by that time.
In Bijnor, where pending sugarcane dues are around Rs 500 crore, the district administration has issued notices to sugar mills in the district warning them that if dues are not cleared within seven days, the administration will register FIRs against mill owners and senior management.
According to UP cane commissioner office here on Monday, pending sugarcane dues for the 2018-19 cane crushing season stand at Rs 6,322 crore as of September 6. This is almost a week beyond the deadline, August 31, set by chief minister Yogi Adityanath for sugar mills to clear the dues.
Farmers in various parts of western Uttar Pradesh, where sugarcane is the primary crop, have been protesting. In Meerut, farmers protested at the office of the deputy cane commissioner leading to a skirmish with the police. Muzzafarngar and Saharanpur too have seen farmers take to the streets to demand pending dues and an agitation continues in Bijnor.
As per the provisions of the UP sugarcane (regulation of supply and purchase) Act 1953, sugarcane dues ought to be cleared by sugar mills within 14 days of taking delivery. If payment is delayed, sugar mills are required to pay an interest of 15 per cent, per annum for the period of the delay in addition to the principal amount.
However, none of these rules are followed or enforced in UP. Farmers are very rarely paid within 14 days, as the law requires and sugar mills never pay any interest to the farmers on account of delay. Before the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh in 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised that if the BJP is voted to power it will ensure that sugarcane dues are cleared within 14 days. PM had promised that ''farmers do the hard work and everybody is growing at the cost of farmers and my government in UP will clear dues within 14 days.''
The BJP in Uttar Pradesh has failed to ensure timely payment of sugarcane dues in both the seasons that it has been in power. It has also failed to enforce the rule that requires sugar mills to pay interest to farmers in case of delays.
The Centre recently announced a Rs 6,000 crore export subsidy to sugar mills to help clear sugarcane dues across the country. The payment, the Centre, said would be made directly to the farmers. It remains to be seen how successful this move would be as the sugar prices in the global market remain below what it costs sugar mills in India to produce sugar.
The Union cabinet on August 28 had announced an export subsidy of over Rs 10,000 per MT to sugar mills to help clear the pending dues of sugarcane farmers for the 2019-20 seasons. The amount will be credited directly into the accounts of farmers on behalf of mills against the dues owed to farmers, the government said. (UNI)