Cane arrears: UP govt turns heat on sugar mill owners

Written by Deepa Jainani | Lucknow | Updated: Jan 25 2014, 04:40am hrs
With just a week left to fulfill its promise to the Allahabad High Court of ensuring complete payment of cane arrears of Rs 2300 crore to farmers by January 30, the UP is cracking the whip on erring sugar mills.

While Rs 1,715.56 crore dues are pending against last season's cane payments, another Rs 500 crore is due as interest portion, said cane commissioner Subhash Chandra Sharma, adding the current season's dues have also piled up to Rs 3059 crore.

The state government has taken note of the difficulty that the industry is going through and has, as a consequence, broken down the cane payment into two parts. But even then, the millers are not paying farmers their dues on time. As a consequence, farmers are not getting their money on time and secondly, they cannot vacate their fields in time to start sowing for the next season. This is leading to a lot of frustration among them, he said.

Stating that the state government would no longer play the advocate for the millers, Sharma directed all the millers to clear up last season's dues by January 28.

Giving a stern warning to the mills who have not paid, Sharma said the ultimate action that the state government will be forced to take is to issue recovery certificates against the erring millers.

As far as last year's outstanding dues are concerned, Bajaj Hindusthan, the country's largest sugar producer, is also the largest defaulter, with Rs 374 crore and Balrampur Chini, the second-largest sugar producer, has outstanding dues to the tune of Rs 217 crore, he said, adding that the mills that have not paid anything to farmers in the current season include Modi group's Malakpur and Modinagar mills, Todarpur sugar mill, three sugar mills of the Mawana group, including Titawi, Naglamal and Mawana, and Baghauli sugar mill of the Sahara group. Despite the fact that crushing started more than a month back, these mills have not paid a penny to the farmers. This is a grim situation and is just not acceptable. This industry cannot be one sided. You need cane to produce sugar. So before the situation gets out of control, you must pay up, he said.