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Govt hardens stance: ‘No more talks with millers’

The UP government Thursday decided to suspend all negotiations with the sugar industry.

Written by Express News Service | Lucknow | Published: November 29, 2013 5:31:45 am

The UP government Thursday decided to suspend all negotiations with the sugar industry and threatened stern action against them if they do not start cane crushing operations by December 4 in western districts and December 7 elsewhere.

The industry,which yet owes over Rs 2,000 crore to farmers as arrears of 2012-13,has also been warned of payment of arrears with interest if their mills do not become functional by the specified date.

The industry,however,remains adamant,maintaining it is “not feasible” for them to run the mills at the given sugar prices.

The government’s move follows three rounds of failed talks with the sugar industry.

The state government has declared a state advised price (SAP) of Rs 280 per quintal of cane for general variety while the industry,claiming to be in a precarious financial condition,has been claiming a paying capacity of Rs 225 per quintal.

Principal Secretary,Sugar Industry and Cane Development,Rahul Bhatnagar,at a press conference in Lucknow,said: “There have been enough talks. There is no scope for any further dialogue. The state government has already given enough relief to the industry for the current crushing season,which makes the SAP viable. If the mills still do not start crushing,then stern action would be taken against them.”

He said the state government is offering subsidies that amount to Rs 20 per quintal of cane to the industry in the current season. The entry and purchase tax rebates of Rs 2.73 per quintal and Rs 2 per quintal of cane,respectively,will be provided only to those mills that start operations,said Bhatnagar.

The government has also rejected the industry’s proposal of outsourcing the mill’s functioning.

The industry had proposed that the government either takes over the mills or the owners run the mills for the government where the profit or loss for the season goes to the government. “We have rejected their proposal of outsourcing the mills. We might consider taking over the mills and running them if need be,” said Bhatnagar.

On industry’s demand for the linkage of cane prices with the sugar prices,Bhatnagar said the state government has decided to form a high-level committee under Chief Secretary Jawed Usmani for deliberations on the matter.

Reacting to the government’s warning,the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) said the mills were not ready to begin crushing. “At the current price it is not feasible for us to start the mills as our paying capacity is only Rs 225 per quintal,” reiterated Abinash Verma,Director General,ISMA.

He added coercive action against the mills will not help the matter.

Earlier,75 of the 99 private mills of the state had issued notices for suspension of operations for the current cane season to the cane commissioner.

Meanwhile,a total of six FIRs have been lodged against mill owners of Muzaffarnagar under section 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act — a non bailable offence. Sources inform several other FIRs could be lodged.

As on Thursday,a total of 21 sugar mills,including 17 in government sector and four private sugar mills,started crushing operations.

Among the private mills are Bijnor Sugar Mill owned by Wave Group,mills at Sakauti Tanda,Meerut and Jarwal Road,Bahraich,both owned by IPL group,and that of Parsendi,Bahraich belonging to the Parle Group.

Cane crisis

BJP seeks special session

LUCKNOW: BJP leader in the legilsature Hukum Singh Thursday demanded convening of an Assembly session to discuss the issues of delay in cane crushing and the problems faced by farmers in western UP post-Muzaffarnagar riots. Singh said 54 lakh cane farmers will face starvation if all 99 private sugar mills of the state do not start crushing immediately. He added that sugar mills are yet to pay Rs 2,300 cr to sugar cane farmers of previous season. Singh said hundreds of farmers were not going to fields because of security concerns. ens

Farmer commits suicide

LAKHIMPUR KHERI: Illness and heavy debts allegedly forced a farmer in Bastauli village to hang himself to death. Satyapal Singh,40,in his suicide note addressed to the Bhira police station SHO,mentioned about the debts of “Rs 1 lakh of Allahabad Bank,Rs 70,000 of UP Land Development Bank,Rs 38,000 of Bastauli Cane Society and Rs 20,000 of Bhira Cane Society,” police said. Besides,Singh also mentioned about “the prolonged pain in his spinal cord” that “left with no other option but to end his life”. PTI

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