Sugarcane farmers to resume protest to get paid in fullBoth the government and the sugar mills are refusing to disclose the details of the payments made so far, farmers say.
Agitating sugarcane farmers say they are going back on the warpath since the money owed to them has not been paid in full as promised, and both the government and the sugar mills are refusing to disclose the details of the payments made so far.
The Sugarcane Farmers Struggle Committee on Thursday announced a series of protest programmes starting with a farmer awareness campaign slated to be held from January 23 to February 19.
During the second phase of the protest from February 19-26, they will work in the fields by wearing black armbands.
From February 27 to March 5, during the third phase, the farmers will work in their fields by giving up one meal daily. Further programmes will be announced subsequently, they said.
“Our fight for justice will continue until convincing proof is revealed that the farmers have been paid in full, since only the government and the sugar mills have the particulars of the monies owed to the sugarcane growers for their crops,” the committee said in a press statement.
“The Industry Ministry has not disclosed the details and only informed us verbally about the payments made, which has raised doubts, speculation and confusion. We can't believe them,” it added.
"The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has informed the committee that Rs570 million out of the Rs650 million in outstanding payments has been cleared, and the remaining Rs80 million has come into its control," said Rakesh Mishra, patron of the Sugarcane Farmers Struggle Committee. “But we do not agree with the Industry Ministry,” Mishra told the Post.
According to the protesting farmers, the Industry Ministry has not cleared all outstanding payments even though the deadline has expired.
The committee has repeatedly asked the government and the sugar mills for the details of the payments made so far, but they have not received any response, it said.
Most of the farmers have received only partial payments, and they are yet to receive all their money, Mishra said.
"If the payments have been made, why doesn't the Industry Ministry disclose the names of the farmers who have received their money? The sugar mills can also post a list of the farmers, the amount paid to them and the date the payment was made at the mill gate so they can check with their banks," he said.
“The Industry Ministry says we should ask the sugar mills, and the sugar mills say we should ask the ministry. We do not know why the government and the mills are creating an issue about revealing the payment details,” Mishra said. “This shows that the government is trying to protect the sugar mills,” he added.
According to Mishra, the Industry Ministry has asked for a list of the farmers and the money owed to them as the government only has the records provided by the sugar mills. The government has been asking for proof about the outstanding payments as no action can be taken without it, he said.
“We will be collecting the records of farmers and continue the protest programme.”
The ministry said that it had started work to verify the amount actually owed to the farmers as their claim exceeds Rs900 million, he added.
According to the Industry Ministry, Shree Ram Sugar Mill has paid all its dues totalling Rs350 million, Annapurna Sugar Mill has paid Rs100.88 million and deposited Rs10.73 million in a bank account out of the Rs170 million outstanding.
Indira Sugar Mill has paid Rs10.5 million out of the total Rs40.70 million, and Lumbini Sugar Mill has paid Rs50.16 million out of the total Rs80.41 million and Rs30 million has been frozen.
Sugarcane farmers had travelled from the Tarai and gathered in the capital from December 13 to protest for the second time demanding that their outstanding dues be cleared.
They called off their two-week-long protest on December 28 following an assurance from the government that the delinquent mills would pay them within 21 days.