KATHMANDU, Dec 15: The government is preparing to arrest the proprietors of sugar mills who have been refusing to clear the longstanding dues of sugarcane farmers supplying them the sweet crop.
Chakra Bahadur Budha, spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs, told Republica that the ministry through a multilateral meeting on Tuesday has sought to take necessary action against the “deceptive” sugar producers. According to him, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa held talks with Agriculture Minister Ghanashyam Bhusal, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Lekhraj Bhatta and Minister for Local development Hridayesh Tripathi in this regard.
Budha said the meeting has discussed possible ways out to make sugar producers settle the dues of the farmers completely. “The government bodies have reached consensus to go as far as arresting sugar mill owners if they do not show any concern to pay the farmers,” he said.
Two years ago, the government had arrested Rakesh Agarwal, owner of Annapurna Sugar Mills in Sarlahi and Indira Sugar Mills in Nawalparasi and Brij Mohan Gupta, the financial manager of Eastern Sugar Mill, to compel them to pay the farmers. But the farmers were far from getting relief thereafter.
This time too, the government has come up with ad hoc measures only after the cane farmers started a sit-in protest at Maitighar in Kathmandu. With the hope of getting the payments for their sold-out produce, around 100 cane farmers from Sarlahi district arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday.
The sugarcane farmers however said the cat-and-mouse game of the government and the industrialists will not help end the perennial problems of the farmers. “Rather, the government should come up with stern policies and relevant mechanisms to address the problems of the farmers in the long term,” said Kapil Muni Mainali, president of Nepal Sugarcane Producers' Association.