Even as the sugarcane crushing in Uttar Pradesh is going on full steam, the country’s top sugar producer is also piled up cane arrears of more than Rs 8,100 crore in the current 2019-20 season.
So far, all the 119 operational sugar mills have procured cane worth about Rs 19,250 crore from the farmers, of which they have settled Rs 11,100 crore, thus leaving more than 42 per cent or Rs 8,150 crore as outstanding.
Interestingly, the net outstanding on the state mills, predominantly private sector, owe much more to the cane farmers considering nearly Rs 447 crore for the previous seasons, including Rs 384 crore for 2018-19 crushing cycle, are still pending.
Together with the current and the previous years’ outstanding, the net arrears on the UP sugar mills is to the tune of almost Rs 8,600 crore.
Meanwhile, the UP mills have produced 7.60 million tonnes (MT) of sugar after crushing 69 MT of sugarcane in the current season even as the state is expected to notch up sugar output of nearly 12 MT this season, thus retaining its position as India’s top sugar producer.
Of the 119 mills, 92 units belong to the private sector, followed by 24 and three factories operating in the cooperative and government sector respectively.
Last year, the Yogi Adityanath government had filed police cases against the mills owned by the Bajaj Hindusthan, Modi and Wave Groups owing to their failure to settle dues of the 2018-19 season. The first information reports (FIR) were lodged under section 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act (ECA) 1955 and section 420 and 120 (B) Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Besides, recovery certificates (RC) were issued against a few others. The RC entitles the respective district administration to seize movable and immovable properties, including sugar stock, for auction, so that the liabilities are settled.
Recently, the chief minister had said his government was integrating the state sugar sector with ethanol to create a profitable and sustainable value chain for the sugarcane farmers.
Speaking in the state legislative assembly, Adityanath had claimed owing to the proactive steps taken by the government, the state had emerged as the country’s top ethanol producer with annual capacity of more than 1,126 million litres.
He said UP sugar mills were either getting shut or sold off at throwaway prices during the previous regimes, his government, even in the face of falling global sugar prices, stood up to the challenge and facilitated more than Rs 88,000 crore of cane payment to farmers over the past three years of his regime.
Meanwhile, the state had liberalised the licensing of khandsari (unprocessed sugar) units and is also promoting setting up of gur (jiggery) plants in the rural areas to provide an alternative source of revenue to farmers.