KATHMANDU, Dec 10: Sugarcane farmers who have not been paid by sugar mills for a long time have warned to launch protests in Maitighar Mandala, Kathmandu, from Sunday.
Rakesh Mishra, a member of the sugarcane farmers’ action committee, told Republica they are compelled to launch protests after the sugar producers failed to clear their dues within the promised deadline that is closing on Friday.
Mishra said there is no sign that the mills will pay the farmers even in the last hour of the promised date. According to him, the farmers will picket Singhadurbar and Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Baluwatar if they do not get a wayout from the first-phase protests.
Records with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies show that farmers are yet to receive a due amount worth Rs 481 million from four sugar producers, namely Shree Ram Sugar Mill, Annapurna Sugar Mill, Indira Sugar Mill and Lumbini Sugar Mill. Although the crushing season has already begun for this year, these sugar mills have not paid the farmers’ outstanding dues of the past six years.
Shree Ram Sugar Mill is yet to pay Rs 350 million to the farmers. Likewise, Annapurna Sugar Mill owes Rs 170 million, Lumbini Sugar Mill Rs 84.1 million and Indira Sugar Mill Rs 47 million to sugarcane farmers.
Almost every year, sugar mills make and break their promise to pay the sugarcane farmers on time even as the government bodies are putting constant pressure on them. These firms, taking mere excuse of being unable to sell the stocks with them, have been reluctant to pay all dues of the farmers. The dilly-dallying by the sugar mills compels the poor farmers to leave their regular work to launch massive protests time and again just to recover money from the buyers of their products.
Shree Ram Sugar Mill which owes the largest amount to the farmers remains closed since July this year. In the name of accumulated losses, the sugar factory shut down its operation without paying to the farmers their due amount.
Last year too, the farmers had staged a sit-in in the capital. Following the incident, the government had assured the farmers to make sugarcane producers settle the dues within the first week of December every year. However, farmers have failed to receive the payment despite the government assurance.