Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath may have promoted Suresh Rana to Cabinet rank, giving him the charge of Cane Development department for forcing sugar mills to clear outstanding cane dues, the mills still owe Rs 7,364.82 crore to farmers of the 2018-19 crushing season and there is every likelihood that they will not be able to clear the dues.
“The situation is grim. It is unlikely that the mills will be able to clear the cane dues by the time the crushing season starts by the first week of November. Cane dues amounting to Rs 7,364.82 crore are yet to be cleared and 95 per cent of this amount has to be paid by private sugar mills,” a senior official told this reporter recently.
Against the total cane payables of Rs 33,047 crore, the sugar mills have so far paid 77 per cent or Rs 25,682.87 crore to farmers thus leaving 23 per cent or Rs 7,364.82 crore as arrears of the 2018-19 season.
“Laxity on the part of the government to take action against the erring sugar mills is the main reason for delay in the payment. Even as the government has given several deadlines to the mills to clear the cane dues, nothing substantial has came out of these warnings,” a source said.
He said the government had again given the deadline of August 31 to clear the cane dues but it was also expected to pass without any major gain.
As per an estimate, the new crushing season will start with pending cane dues of several thousand crore rupees, which is not a good sign.
“As per an estimate, even if the mills make some payments, the outstanding cane dues will not be less than Rs 6,500 crore,” he said.
The Central and state governments had announced separate soft loan schemes to help private sugar mills pay cane dues to the farmers in the because of the glut of sugar in the market, export market squeeze and falling prices of sugar.
The Cane department, after holding a meeting with the representatives of private sugar mills, had issued directives for ensuring full payment of cane dues by August 31.
The sugar mills were also asked to complete their annual repair and maintenance at the earliest so that the mills could start operations on time for the upcoming cane crushing season (October 2019-April 2020).
Last month, the government had warned the defaulting mills of filing that cases under Section 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 would be registered and recovery certificates against them.
It said the district administration would seize the mill and its stock for auctioning, if the farmers’ dues were not paid on time.
In fact, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has asked mills to settle their outstanding dues and has cautioned them that delay in clearing cane dues would not be tolerated.
In the 2018-19 crushing season, 119 sugar mills, including 94 private, 24 cooperative and a UP State Sugar Corporation unit, had operated in Uttar Pradesh. The state sugar output stood at about 1,182.30 lakh quintal compared to over 1,205 lakh quintal in 2017-18 season.