Farmers wield lathis to recover sugarcane duesdehradun Updated: Jul 03, 2017 20:48 IST
Farmers perform ‘lathi poojan’ in US Nagar.(HT Photo)
Miffed over their pending dues worth ₹140 crore, sugarcane farmers of the terai belt in Udham Singh Nagar have decided to wield lathis (batons) to recover them. The farmers held a ‘lathi poojan’ (baton worship) ceremony on Sunday.
Sugarcane is considered a profitable crop, but the farmers are miffed over the delay in payments. According to sources, dues worth ₹140 crore against the sugarcane supplied by the farmers to the sugar mills during previous years are pending in Udham Singh Nagar. There are four sugar mills of corporation and co-operative sector in Sitarganj, Kichha, Bazpur and Nadehi in Jaspur.
The farmers, demanding their dues, have organised dharnas, sent memoranda to the state government and met public representatives, including the chief minister, many a time, but in vain. Fed up with the assurances, farmers have decided to weild lathis to fight for their dues. Jagtar Singh Bajwa, a farmer and organiser of the programme, said, “Bazpur sugar mill owes ₹45 crore to the farmers. Farmers have taken loan from banks, but are unable to repay them because of the financial crisis. Bank officials are visiting their houses for the loan recovery. Government has sufficient money, but not giving the payment and price of the farmers’ produce.”
He added, “We have performed lathi poojan because Mahatma Gandhi played a vital role in freedom struggle with his own lathi. Lathi in Bazpur will boost the morale of farmers and help awaken the state government against the delay in payment.”
Bajwa said, “We have given the government time till July 8 to take action in this regard. If our warning is unheard, then we will start (an) agitation in the interest of sugarcane producers of the area.”
According to Dharmveer Singh, assistant commissioner, sugarcane, US Nagar, “Last year, farmers cultivated sugarcane on 31,657 hectare land and the management of sugar mills have to pay ₹140 crore to the farmers. Out of this amount, around ₹44 crore of 2015-16 is yet to be paid to the farmers.” He said he has sent notices to the management of sugar mills to pay the pending dues of farmers.