KATHMANDU, Dec 28: Sugarcane farmers who have been staging sit-in protests in the capital city for the past two weeks agreed to call off their protests after the government agreed to address all the grievances of the agitating farmers.
Over 300 cane farmers from Tarai region including Sarlahi district arrived in Kathmandu earlier to exert pressure on the owners of sugar mills and the government authorities concerned to clear their outstanding dues. They had been regularly organizing their protests in Maitighar in Kathmandu after the sugar mill owners became reluctant to clear the outstanding dues accumulated for the past six year.
Rakesh Mishra, a member of the sugarcane farmers’ action committee, told Republica that they have agreed to stop the protest activities for now after the government made a four-point agreement with the agitating farmers. The government expressed commitment to settle the dues of the farmers within three weeks during a meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies on Monday.
“The ministry officials have assured to take stern action such as issuing of arrest warrants, suspending the bank account and imposing restriction on the travel of the sugar producers who will defy the government’s instruction to clear the dues of farmers within the given deadline,” Mishra said.
With the agreement reached on Monday, the ministry has now agreed to take all responsibility to clear dues of the farmers that mill owners owe to them. Likewise, the ministry has also agreed to form a taskforce to solve other related problems of cane farmers. The proposed ten-member taskforce will include representatives from concerned government ministries, sugarcane farmers, Nepal Sugar Producers’ Association and sugarcane farmers’ action committee.
Earlier, the protesting cane farmers had denied holding talks with the government bodies insisting that they be paid first with all their outstanding dues worth nearly Rs 1 billion. The government bowed to the pressure after the farmers’ move received support from various quarters.