Sugarcane farmers in Kathmandu demanding due payment from sugar mills

KATHMANDU: Sugarcane farmers have once again gathered in Kathmandu to ask the government to help them recover their due payments from sugar mills.

They lamented that the the sugar mills owners have sold their mills without clearing their due payment.

Earlier, the farmers had returned to their respective villages after the government assured them of recovering all the dues as soon as possible from the sugar mills. The government had also formed a committee comprising representatives of Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Ministry of Home Affairs and five farmers.

Though the farmers had claimed Rs 7 million due to be paid, the committee had prepared a report that the sugar mills should have to pay Rs 6.5 million to the farmers. The farmers had refused to sign the report arguing that the report had not mentioned complete information.

Sugarcane Farmers Struggle Committee Coordinator Rakesh Mishra said that the Annapurna Sugar Mills owner sold the mill to other person without clearing their due amount.

“Annapurna Sugar Mills had published a notice at the Kantipur news daily stating that the sugarcane farmers collect their due amount within 21 days,” Mishra said, adding,” The farmers, however, could not find the owner.”

Another owner has been operating the mills at present. The Annapurna Sugar Mills has yet to pay Rs 8 million due amount to the farmers.

According to Mishra, Mahalaxmi Sugar Mills has to pay Rs 5 million, Indira Sugar Mills, Lumbin Sugar Mill and Shreeram Sugar Mills have to pay Rs 20 million each to the farmers.

“The sugar mills owner had earlier said that he would pay the due amount within 21 days, but it has already been 1 year the amount has not been paid yet,” he said.

The probe committee in its report had only stated that the mills have to pay the due amount but it has not mentioned that which mills have to pay how much amount to the farmers.

The government had staged a demonstration at Maitighar in Kathmandu in December last year.

Arjun Prasad Pokharel, Secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, said that he had no knowledge that the sugarcane farmers had come to Kathmandu to ask the government to help them recover their due payments from the sugar mills owners.

“The Ministry of Industry will help the sugarcane farmers to recover their due amount,” he said, adding,” The Ministry had taken initiative to make the sugar mills to pay sugarcane farmers in the past and will do this time also.”

Hari Bahadur KC, Joint Secretary at one the departments of Ministry of Agriculture, said that the Ministry of Agriculture is not the concerned authority to help farmers to recover the due amount of the farmers.

KC said, “Our responsibility is to give donation to the sugarcane farmers. We will pay the donation of last fiscal year within the month of July.” “The sugar mills owners have to pay the due amount. The Ministry of Industry has to help the farmers for the same. We cannot do anything to recover the due amount,” he added.

The farmers have served a 22-day ultimatum to the mills owners to pay the amount. They said that they would hit the streets if the mills owners did not pay the amount within the given timeframe.

Meanwhile, the government has not been able to expand the Cabinet yet. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has kept the Agriculture Ministry portfolio with himself.

 

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