Muzaffarpur: Sugar cane producers await payment of dues
Times of India – 10 May 2019, SHEOHAR: Around 40,000 registered sugar cane growers of Sheohar, Sitamarhi and parts of Muzaffarpur are in for a shock as their produce is still lying in their field. The crushing season is almost over and the sugar mill at Riga is about to close its production.
The matter related to the farmers’ produce lying unused in their agricultural field and non-payment of their dues was raised at an election meeting addressed by chief minister Nitish Kumar in the presence of his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan at Riga under Sheohar Lok Sabha constituency on Thursday.
The CM said the state government would look into the problems faced by the farmers in general and the cane growers in particular. “The government will try to sort out the problem after the election,” he told the gathering at Kisan Maidan, close to the Riga Sugar Mill under Riga assembly segment of Sheohar Lok Sabha constituency.
Earlier, sitting MP and BJP nominee Rama Devi, who is trying for her hat-trick from the seat, first lauded the efforts by CM Nitish to clear the dues of the cane growers and then appealed to him to help them out. Anand Kishore, chief of Kishan Morcha, which fights for the cause of the sugar cane farmers of the area, said, “Around 5 lakh quintals of crop are still lying in the fields of the farmers.”
Only three-four days are left for the crushing season to come to an end here. Madan Singh (50), a sugar cane grower of Adauri village under Purnahia block in Sheohar district, said, “The mill has not cleared the dues to the tune of Rs 20 crore of the farmers for 2017-18 fiscal. In addition, not a single penny has been paid to them for this crushing season against the sugar cane supplied to the mill,” he lamented.
Another cane grower of Rasulpur village, Chandeshwar Prasad Singh (62), said, “There are families which have delayed the marriage of their daughters due to non-payment of dues. They are eagerly waiting for the payment. The government should immediately take initiative to clear the dues of the cane growers.”
A delegation of the sugar cane growers led by Nagendra Prasad Singh, a functionary of the Bihar Rajya Sugarcane Growers’ Association, had met the CM, sugarcane minister and other senior officials of the department last year and submitted a memorandum listing their demands. “After CM’s intervention, a two-member committee was set up to suggest ways for early payment of dues,” said Bimlendu Kumar (50), a resident of Jagjivan Basant village.
On the recommendation of the two-member committee, the sugar cane farmers were paid 85% of the money realised from sugar sold on the open market. The remaining 15% of money was paid to the management of the mill. The system continued for a few months but it was altered later and only 70% of money is now paid to the farmers, lamented Paras Nath Singh (45), a resident of Bulakipur village.
The locals said the mill owed the farmers ’dues to the tune of Rs 150 crore. Sugar cane is grown on around 21,000 hectares of land in the region. “We have also demanded to increase the prices of sugar per quintal,” said Sarvajeet Yadav, 56, a resident of Kathara village under Riga block in Sitamarhi district.
They have demanded a hike in the rate of sugar cane to Rs 400 per quintal. “Ät present, sugar mill is giving three different rates for three qualities of sugarcane. For the top category or for the superior variety of sugar cane, farmers are getting Rs 310 per quintal, Rs 285 for the second and Rs 270 for the third quality of the sugar cane. On an average, sugar cane farmers are getting a rate of Rs 280 per quintal,” Yadav said.
Riga, Belsand in Sitamarhi district, Chiraiya, Madhuban and Dhaka in East Champaran district and Sheohar assembly segments come under the Sheohar Lok Sabha constituency from where Rama Devi of BJP is locked in a close contest with RJD’s Syed Faisal Ali. There are altogether 18 contestants in the fray.