KATHMANDU, Nov 1: Police in Kathmandu arrested sugar producer Rakesh Agarwal on Wednesday on the charge of not paying dues totaling Rs 473 million to sugarcane farmers. Acting on the order of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), police arrested Agarwal from his residence at Tripureshwar at around 11 am.
MoHA has claimed that the arrest was made as thousands of farmers are affected due to the non-payment by Agrawal. He owns Annapurna Sugar Mills in Sarlahi and Indira Sugar Mills in Nawalparasi.
“He had been making false promises of payment with the farmers for a long time,” spokesperson of MoHA Ram Krishna Subedi said, “We ordered the arrest as thousands of sugarcane farmers in Sarlahi and Nawalparasi are suffering.”According to the Chief District Officer (CDO) of Sarlahi, Drona Pokharel, Agarwal owes farmers in Sarlahi a total of Rs 387 million. Pokharel also said the Sarlahi district administration had repeatedly told him to pay the farmers but he ignored the requests.“We even issued a five-day ultimatum to pay the amount, but he ignored that,” Pokharel said, “As a result, we request the MoHA to take necessary action.”
Similarly, CDO of Nawalparasi Devendra Lamichhane said that the industrialist has yet to pay Rs 86 million to the farmers in the district. He added that Agarwal was first given a 15-day deadline on July 10 by the DAO, Nawalparasi to pay the initial due amount of Rs 130 million to the farmers. “Since then we have issued several notices prompting him to pay the amount but he has so far paid only around Rs 50 million,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry has expressed its dissatisfaction over the arrest of Agarwal. The federation said such arrest would harm investment atmosphere and send negative message among foreign investors.