Annapurna Sugar Mill fails to pay farmers and staffLocals have padlocked the warehouse of Annapurna Sugar Mill in Dhankaul after the mill failed to pay farmers who provided the sugarcane.
Locals have padlocked the warehouse of Annapurna Sugar Mill in Dhankaul after the mill failed to pay farmers who provided the sugarcane.
Angry locals were forced to lock the mill’s warehouse as it failed to pay sugarcane producers this year too. The mill has been habitually cheating farmers in recent years. Farmers said that the mill has also not paid salaries for its lower level staff, according to locals.
Akshya Lal Raut, a local farmer of Dhanagada, said that the mill had never made a timely payment to him. “This year too, the mill took the raw materials from farmers, with promises of prompt payment,” he said. “But it did not release the money.” Raut said that after the process of sugarcane crushing is completed, the top officials of the mill disappear. “The farmers and unpaid mill workers were forced to padlock the warehouse to press the management to release the money,” he said.
A multi stakeholder meeting led by the local administration had decided to pay the farmers and mill workers from the quantity of sugar the mill had sold. “The meeting decided to permit the mill to sell sugar worth Rs10 million and pay the affected parties such as the sugarcane producers,” Raut said. “It will be allowed to sell extra sugar after the first installment is settled.”
However, the agreement went in smoke after the top officials of the mill vanished. Chief District Officer Pradip Raj Kadel said that the mill officials were out of contact after the agreement was signed. “We are making efforts to establish contact will the mill,” he said, adding that this was not the first instance as it has been cheating the farmers.
Annapurna Sugar Mill has partially settled the sugarcane producers balance, pilling up since last three years.
As per the agreement, sugar producer should pay within 15 days after taking sugarcane from the farmers. “We were convinced when the mill assured us that they would make full payment this year,” Raut said. “But old habits dies hard.”
Locals said that if such mistrust continues, the mill would be shut down permanently. The local administration on the other hand has not been able to take action against the mill that has been repeatedly taking advantage of poor farmers, they said. Sarlahi district produces more than 10 million quintals of sugarcane on 23,000 hectares.