Ahead of Zila Parishad elections, scheduled on September 19 in the state, the Punjab government on Thursday decided to release an amount of Rs 25 crore to clear dues of sugarcane farmers pending towards cooperative mills.
The decision to release the arrears was taken after Cooperative Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa took up the matter with Chief Minister’s Office. The CMO then decided to direct the Finance Department to release an amount of Rs 25 crore to Punjab State Federation of Cooperative Sugar Mill Limited (Sugarfed), an apex body of cooperative sugar mills in the state.
AAP MLA and former Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira had joined a dharna by sugarcane farmers in Morinda on September 6.
An official said there was no violation of code of conduct implemented in the state as it was not a sop. The dues date back to last crushing season that ended in April. The cash-strapped state had released another amount of Rs 35 crore on August 11, following agitations by the farmers.
Punjab has nine cooperative sugar mills, with Sugarfed being their apex body. Out of these 15, nine are functional — at Ajnala, Batala, Bhogpur, Budhewal, Fazilka, Gurdaspur, Morinda, Nakodar and Nawanshahr.
Punjab’s private and cooperative sugar mills together owe Rs 754 crore to the farmers. The government had cleared dues worth Rs 400 crore till last month. It still has an outstanding of Rs 252 crore.