Cracking the whip over non-payment of farmers’ dues of more than Rs 5,580 crore, the Yogi Adityanath government has filed police cases against nine defaulting mills, including those operated by Bajaj Hindusthan, Modi and Wave Groups.
Besides, recovery certificates (RC) have also been issued against some units, which entitles district administration to seize movable and immovable properties, including sugar stock, for auction, so that the liabilities are settled.
According to UP sugarcane commissioner Sanjay Bhoosreddy, first information reports (FIR) against defaulters had been filed under stringent section 3/7 of Essential Commodities Act (ECA) 1955 and section 420 and 120 (B) Indian Penal Code (IPC).
He has warned that if the companies still do not facilitate speedy payments, more action would be taken against them. The mills had failed to settle their payment commitments despite repeated warnings and reminders by the government.
Interestingly, chief minister Adityanath had set the deadline of August 31 for the private millers to pay outstanding amount. Yet, the mills collectively owed dues of nearly Rs 7,000 core on September 1.
So far, UP mills had paid Rs 27,460 crore to farmers, out of a total of Rs 33,048 crore pertaining to 2018-19 crushing season. This leaves almost Rs 5,588 crore as outstanding, of which the private sector accounts for the bulk of Rs 5,200 crore or 88 per cent of the dues.
Bhoosreddy claimed following strict action, the private millers had settled Rs 450 crore of outstandings in the past four days, while some had promised to pay another Rs 500 crore soon. So far, 30 private mills have already settled their full dues and in the next few days, 20 more would follow suit, he claimed.
In 2018-19 crushing season, total of 119 state mills, including 94 private, 24 cooperative and a UP State Sugar Corporation unit, had participated in crushing operations with the state sugar output totalling 11.8 million tonnes (MT) compared to over 12 MT in 2017-18.
Meanwhile, cane area in UP, India’s top sugar producer, dropped more than four per cent to 2.68 million hectares (MH) for the coming 2019-20 crushing season. Last season, the state’s cane acreage was almost 2.8 MH.
Bhoosreddy noted reduction in cane area was the result of farmers in some districts shifting to other cash crops.
The next sugar season is set to begin from October end. While Western UP units would start operating after Diwali in the last week of October, mills in Central and Eastern UP have been asked to start by the end of the first and second weeks, of November respectively.