Sugar cane farmers of Saharanpur and Meerut divisions are a harried lot as their payment of the last crushing season from the sugar mills, which is Rs 2750, has not been made yet. Meanwhile, the new crop is almost ready for harvest.
According to sources, farmers of nine districts of Meerut and Saharanpur division are still waiting for their dues to be cleared. Out of the 33 sugar mills for these two divisions, with the exception of a few, the payments are yet to be cleared. The sugar cane crop is ready for harvest and after two months the supply to sugar mills will start whereas the previous payments are yet to be disbursed. This has added to the woes of the farmers who are facing financial crises due to the non-payment of their dues by the sugar mills.
Western UP is known as the sugar cane belt and the economy here revolves around the sugar cane, especially in the rural areas. Because of the current situation, farmers are not able to deposit the fees of their wards in schools and colleges and also had to postpone the marriages and other family functions. They allege that in spite of their repeated demands the payments are not yet cleared.
Last week, a farmer of Pawti Village of Garhmukteshwar in Hapur district committed suicide due to a heavy loan which he could not repay as his sugar cane payment was not cleared by Simbhavli Sugar Mill.
Mithan Tyagi, a farmer from the Parikshit Garh area said, “The situation of sugar cane farmers is getting bad to worse, especially with the next crushing season approaching near. The condition of small and marginal farmers is particularly very bad.”
Raising the matter again, the national spokesperson of Bhartiya Kisan Union Rakesh Tikait has sent a memorandum to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in which he has demanded to register cases of economic offenses against defaulter sugar mills so that the farmers could get their dues.
Tikait said that they had given an ultimatum to the government twice earlier but to no avail.
“Over Rs 6000 crore payments of farmers are still pending which also raises doubts over the credibility of state government in this matter,” said the BKU leader warning that the unrest amongst the farmers could soon convert into a mass movement.
Taking cognizance of the issue, the divisional commissioner of Saharanpur Sanjay Kumar and Meerut Anita C Meshram have instructed the sugar mill owners to clear the dues of the farmers.
Saharanpur division has 17 sugar mills in Shamli, Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar districts. Dy Cane Commissioner of Saharanpur division Dineshwar Mishra said that the sugar mills have so far paid Rs 4284 crore against the total dues of Rs 5479 crore and the pending amount is Rs 1195 crore.
In Meerut division, there are 16 sugar mills which paid Rs 3011.85 crore against the total dues of Rs 4573.50 crore and still Rs 1561.86 crore are pending.
Divisional commissioner of Meerut Anita C Meshram recently held a meeting with the sugar mill and sugarcane officials and directed them to clear dues before the commencement of the forthcoming crushing season. The mill officials also promised to clear the payments and told that they are waiting for the subsidy amount from the government on getting which and after selling their buffer stocks of sugar they would clear the dues.