Govt swings into action as cane growers intensify stir

Chandigarh, September 14: Following unrest among sugarcane growers, awaiting disbursement of Rs 700-crore dues, the state government has initiated a move to clear the pending arrears of nine cooperative sugar mills, to start with.

“Efforts are being made to release Rs 25 crore every month,” said a senior government functionary.

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After receiving instructions from the Chief Minister’s Office, the Finance Department has been asked to clear the demand of Rs 25 crore, raised by the Cooperatives Department. Confirming the development, Cooperation Minister Sukhjinder Randhawa said efforts were being made to clear dues of the cooperative mills.

For the past few months, the cane growers have been holding protests in different parts of the state, asking the mills to clear their dues. They had recently submitted a memorandum, signed by six lakh farmers, to the Governor.

For the crushing season, the nine cooperative sugar mills have to pay dues of Rs 300 crore to the growers and six of the seven private mills owe near Rs 440 crore. A fall in the prices of sugar in the past has worsened the situation.

Randhawa, who on Thursday held a meeting with Additional Chief Secretary, Cooperation, DP Reddy, said efforts would be made to clear the dues before the next crushing season that begins in November. This year, government plans to start crushing early. However, there is no decision on the state reimbursing the gap between the state advised price of Rs 310 per quintal and the fair remunerative price of Rs 255 per quintal that the Centre has fixed.

Source Tribune India

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