Cane farmers demand payment of outstanding dues from sugar millThe Sugarcane Producers Association says that Shree Ram Sugar Mill in Rautahat, which closed two months ago, has Rs410 million in outstanding dues to farmers.
Two months after Shree Ram Sugar Mill in Rautahat was forced to shut down due to its piling losses, an association of sugarcane producers on Sunday knocked the door of a parliament body requesting it to make efforts to get the mill to settle the outstanding dues owed to farmers.
A memorandum was submitted by the Sugarcane Producers Association to the parliamentary Industry, Commerce, Labour and Consumer Welfare Committee that deals with various consumer related issues.
The association has asked the parliamentary body to make the mill liable to pay the farmers dues before the Dashain festival.
The association said that the mill owes them Rs410 million in outstanding payments, which is pending since the fiscal year 2014-15. On July 26, Shree Ram Sugar Mill shut down its operation by publishing a notice.
It said that due to continued losses in the business, it had to be shut down.
The association said that the mill has also not paid workers their salaries for five months worth around Rs40 million.
The association has also demanded the factory to be reopened. “We urge the government to implement our demand,” states the memorandum.
Bimal Prasad Shrivastav, chairperson of the parliamentary committee, said that the committee held a discussion with the mill owner on Sunday.
“We will discuss the issue with the Industry Minister in the next meeting before taking the final decision,” Shrivastav told the Post.
However, due to the situation created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand put forth by the sugarcane farmers to get their payment before Dashain is low, he said.
“But we have asked the mill management to make some payment to the farmers and employees as the festival is nearing,” he added.
Shree Ram Sugar Mill, Annapurna Sugar Mill of Sarlahi, Indira Sugar Mill of Nawalparasi have millions in unpaid dues owed to sugarcane farmers, said Kapil Muni Mainali, president of Federation of Sugarcane Producers Association.
The industry minister had summoned the owners of these mills in December last year and they had pledged to release the payment within one and half months. “But they have not released a penny,” he said.
Shree Ram Sugar Mill is operated by Hitesh Golchha of Golchha Organization and started crushing sugarcane from 1994. Around 18,000 farmers in Rautahat district are engaged in sugarcane farming which is a major source of income to them.
Around 600 employees have lost their jobs and hundreds more have been affected indirectly after the mill closed down. They have lost their income source amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, according to the association.
Shree Ram Sugar Mill had agreed to release the pending payment by selling the land of the mill but that did not happen. Shree Ram has been purchasing sugarcane from farmers in Bara, Parsa and Rautahat with an annual consignment of 140,000 tonnes of sugarcane grown on 8,000 bighas of land.
Shree Ram resumed operations on February 12 following pressure from the government, but it shut down again two weeks later after crushing 3,800 tonnes of sugarcane, citing lack of raw materials.