Even as the state government claims that almost half of its sugar mills have started crushing cane,the woes of farmers are far from over who want higher price for their crop as well as clearance of last season’s arrears.
Unhappy with the state advised price (SAP),which is Rs 280 per quintal for general variety of cane,the farmers are refusing to sell cane at several places in the state.
The delay in running the mills has forced the farmers to delay,and at places even forego,sowing of wheat crop.
The worst-affected are farmers of western UP,especially in the riot-hit Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur,which are major cane producing districts and where very few mills have started crushing operations so far.
In Saharanpur,none of the private sugar mills have started crushing cane as of now,whereas in Shamli,one sugar mill at Unn (Rajat Lal Group),and in Muzaffarnagar,two sugar mills,Rohana (IPL group) and Tikaula (Shakti Swarup group),have commenced crushing.
Farmers are sitting on protest outside two sugar mills in Saharanpur,demanding clearance of their earlier dues. Only one sugar mill has provided indent for crushing cane so far and farmers are not ready to give their cane at such low rates here, said Yogendra Dahia,Chairman,Farmer Forum,Saharanpur.
Only 10 to 15 per cent of wheat has been sown in Saharanpur so far due to the delay in purchase of cane, said Dahia. Many farmers might not be in a position to sow wheat at all this year.
In Muzaffarnagar,where mill owners owe around Rs 125 crore to farmers,the condition is slightly better. Farmers have started selling cane to two sugar mills but that is after the DM has assured that the mills would pay Rs 280 per quintal to the farmers, said Shyam Lal Singh,cane farmer and chairman of Mansurpur Sugar Development Council,Muzaffarnagar.
We are not happy with the price we are getting but farmers are hard pressed for choice. By December 25,wheat needs to be sown. Farmers need to clear their fields now to sow wheat, said Singh.
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU),which is leading the protest of farmers for sugarcane prices,maintains the farmers have refused to sell their cane at such a low price. The farmers who have not received the dues for the last crushing season are apprehensive that the Rs 20,which the government claims would be paid later,will never be given to them by factory owners. Arrears of around Rs 2,300 crore of the last season remains pending. The farmers would not give cane to mills at Rs 260 per quintal, said Harinam Singh Verma,Lucknow district president BKU.
Verma said the union,which has called a statewide protest Thursday,is again planning a protest in Lucknow outside the Assembly.
Meanwhile,the government officials maintain that the situation is improving. We have managed to start 60 out of 124 mills,with around 17 private mills starting crushing operations today, said Cane Commissioner Subhash Chand Sharma.
With the Centre declaring to grant interest-free loans to sugar mills for the season today,the Uttar Pradesh Sugar Mills Association has promised to clear all arrears. Welcoming the step,the association,in a press release,said : In UP the first step shall be to clear the arrears of farmers.
Mill chief engineer found dead
LUCKNOW: A chief engineer of Sultanpur Sugar Mill was found dead at his official residence situated on the mill premises in Gosainganj area Friday. The body of Chaitanya Kumar Srivastava,57,was found hanging from a ceiling fan inside his house by an employee of the sugar mill in the morning.
Sultanpur Additional SP DPN Pandey said no suicide note was recovered. He said the mill is run by the UP Cooperative Sugar Factories. Sultanpur Sugar mills chief manager Rajiv Jain said Srivastava was a chief engineer at the mill but said he did not why he committed suicide.
Srivastava used to live alone on the mill premises while his family stayed in Lucknow.