Sugar mills owe Rs 4,611 crore to farmers against sugarcane purchase made in the ongoing season that will end in September, Parliament was informed on Friday. Already, 92 per cent of sugarcane dues of the current 2016-17 season have been cleared by mills, Minister of State for Food C R Chaudhary said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha. The outstanding cane price arrears are now only Rs 4,611 crore, he said. Of this, cane arrears in Uttar Pradesh – the leading sugar producing state – stand at Rs 2,535 crore, Gujarat (Rs 1,067 crore), Tamil Nadu (Rs 494 crore), Uttarkhand (Rs 302 crore), Punjab (Rs 127 crore), Bihar (Rs 24 crore), Haryana (Rs 22 crore) and Puducherry (Rs 12 crore), according to the data placed before the Upper House. The minister said cane arrears have come down substantially on account of several measures taken in last few years.
As a result, mills have cleared 92 per cent of cane dues of 2015-16 season and the outstanding amount is Rs 822 crore. Similarly, 99.33 per cent of dues of 2014-15 season have been cleared and Rs 1,073 crore remains to be paid, he said. As per the rule, mills have to pay cane price within 14 days of supply of raw material, failing which interest at Rs 15 per cent per annum is charged on amount due for the delayed period. The states have powers to enforce this. The minister said, “however the time schedule is not adhered to sometimes by sugar mills due to dynamics of sugar prices in domestic as well as international market which leads accumulation of cane price arrears.” In 2014-15, cane price arrears had peaked to Rs 21,837 crore in April 2015.