KATHMANDU, Dec 17: After having been deceived time and again by sugar mills and even by the government, sugarcane farmers from the southern plains of the country have continued their protest in Kathmandu for the second consecutive year.
Nearly 100 cane farmers from Sarlahi district in the southern belt of the country, who expected to be paid within a month after the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies committed to making necessary arrangements to get their outstanding dues cleared, have been staging a sit-in in the capital since Sunday in an apparent bid to exert pressure on the government.
Braving the dipping mercury in Kathmandu, the farmers have been organizing a sit-in protest in Maitighar, Kathmandu since last Sunday. They have presented two bottom lines --- either the government makes the sugar mills pay them the price of sugarcane they sold to the mills or the government itself makes the payment in cash to them and charges the mills later.
It may be noted that the farmers had staged a sit-in in the capital in January, last year too. Then 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’s assurance.
Following a two-week long sit-in protest by the farmers at Maitighar last year, the government committed to addressing their concerns. The farmers reached an agreement with the government on January 3. They were assured that their outstanding dues would be cleared by January 21.
Records at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies show that farmers are yet to receive a due amount of 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.
The farmers, however, claimed that the sugar mills owe Rs 900 million to the famers who have not been paid for the past four years.