Yogi warns sugar mills as UP arrears top Rs 5,275 crore
With less than six months left for the crucial 2022 Uttar Pradesh elections and the state sugarcane arrears topping Rs 5,275 crore, chief minister Yogi Adityanath has directed the officials to take tough action against sugar mills defaulting on farmers’ payments.
With less than six months left for the crucial 2022 Uttar Pradesh (UP) elections and the state sugarcane arrears topping Rs 5,275 crore, chief minister Yogi Adityanath has directed the officials to take tough action against sugar mills defaulting on farmers’ payments.
Presiding over a meeting on September 11 to review sugarcane payments for the current 2020-21 sugar season (Oct-Sep), Yogi directed senior officials to ensure the settlement of dues at the earliest and take to task mills “neglecting the interests of farmers.”
Of the sugarcane dues of Rs 33,025 for the current crushing season, the UP mills have collectively settled Rs 27,750 crore, thus leaving an outstanding of Rs 5,275 crore or nearly 16 per cent of the total value of procurement.
Moreover, the Yogi government is under immense pressure to increase sugarcane price for the next 2021-22 crushing season even as other cane-producing states like Punjab and Haryana have already announced an upward revision in the respective State Advisory Price (SAP). SAP is always higher than the Centre’s mandated Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) for cane.
According to sources, the UP government could hike the SAP by Rs 25 per quintal, which would increase the effective cane price from Rs 315 and Rs 325 per quintal of common and improved varieties respectively to Rs 340 and Rs 350 per quintal. However, this would still be lower than the SAP announced by Punjab for their farmers ahead of the impending state assembly polls.
Earlier, the UP farmers had demanded cane price of Rs 400 per quintal in the backdrop of a substantial increase in farm input costs, including labour, fuel, fertilizers etc.
Meanwhile, Yogi claimed his government was taking all possible steps to improve the lot of the farmers. He informed sugarcane payments worth Rs 1.42 lakh crore had been made since 2017, and that the sugar mills had functioned optimally even during the pandemic.
In UP, nearly 5 million farm households are directly connected with sugarcane farming. The sector plays a significant role in the political economy of Western UP, which is currently witnessing a sustained stir over the new farm laws.
Considering that farm topics are expected to determine the electoral outcome in a number of assembly constituencies, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is understandably worried at the prospects of any undercurrent of farm anger spoiling its poll strategy to stage a comeback next year.