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Post elections, Bijnor's sugarcane farmers hope bitter days will end

Press Trust of India  |  Bijnor 

With polling in the belt of western over, farmers hope the next government would ensure that sugar mills clear their pending dues which have run into thousands of crores.

Non-payment of dues to farmers dominated the electoral discourse in this Lok Sabha constituency in the run up to the April 11 polls.

Bijnor, one of the five assembly segments under this constituency, has a total of 15,62,065 voters.

"It was an important election issue for us. We honestly don't have much hope from any party but we voted in hope of a better tomorrow, for a change," said Pankaj, a in Jamalpur here.

Rajendra Singh, national convener of Azad Kisan Union, said pending arrears is a big issue for farmers.

Farmers have cast their votes hoping for a government that would not make false promises and have concrete plans for them, he said.

is the largest of sugarcane in India, accounting for 45 per cent of the country's output in 2018-19, according to data on the website of the

Sugar mills owe Rs 10,000 crore to farmers in western alone and as much as Rs 250 crore is pending from the previous season,

The farmers in the region say they have been complaining about non-payment of dues for months now, but to no avail.

"I was paid last in December 2017. How can we survive like this?" another from Jamalpur, Hari Singh, asks.

He claimed that his dues worth Rs 2.5 lakh were pending.

Mill owners claim that they are unable to pay the farmers as excess production has led to a fall in sugar prices.

However, farmers reject the argument.

They claim the sugar mills don't pay up as the only law which could keep them in check was repealed by the government.

The Sugar Undertaking (Taking Over The Management) Act, 1978, enacted after the price of sugar was deregulated, was repealed in 2015.

The Act provided for temporary takeover of the management of sugar mills in case of prolonged non-payment of dues to protect the interests of farmers and consumers and to rescue ailing undertakings.

"After the Act was repealed, the sugar mills became fearless and they purposely stop payment of our dues," said Tribhuvan Singh, a in Gopalpur village.

Reasons cited by the government for repealing the Act included it's non-usage in three decades and states having their own laws for the sector.

"There was at least a fear among them (sugar mills) that they can be held accountable under this Act," said Tribhuvan, adding that his dues worth Rs 1.5 lakh are pending.

Farmers claimed that the government is pushing them to cultivate other crops.

"The government is now pushing us to grow other crops but they don't understand that each crop requires a favourable to grow," said Farooq, a in Agari village here.

He said he had tried to grow poplar (used for making plywood) but the returns were not as lucrative.

"Poplar takes eight to ten years to grow. We get Rs 310 per quintal for sugarcane and just Rs 80-100 per quintal for poplar," he said.

Sitting and candidate Bhatendra Singh, Congress's Naseemuddin Siddiqui and grand alliance's Maluk Nagar were among the prominent candidates in the fray this year.

Results for the elections will be announced on May 23.

The BJP, along with its ally Apna Dal, had swept Uttar Pradesh in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. They won 73 out of 80 seats in the state.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, April 12 2019. 18:30 IST