Farmers in Uttarakhand at crossroads as government decides to operate Sitarganj sugar mill on PPP mode
The recent decision by Trivendra Singh Rawat cabinet to run the loss incurring Sitarganj sugar mill on public private partnership mode has not gone well with farmers and employees of the milldehradun Updated: Dec 03, 2017 19:35 IST
The recent decision by Trivendra Singh Rawat cabinet to run the loss incurring Sitarganj sugar mill on public private partnership (PPP) mode has not gone well with farmers and employees of the mill. The crushing season of the mill that was scheduled to start this month has been postponed and the cane growing farmers are clueless as to what to do with their crop.
The Sitarganj cooperative sugar mill was established in 1984 by veteran Congress leader ND Tiwari. Over the years, due to mismanagement, it has incurred a loss of Rs 400 crore. Before this mill came into existence, farmers would send their crops to a mill in neighbouring Rampur district, now in Uttar Pradesh. Nearly 7 thousand cane growing farmers are directly associated with the mill.
In the initial phase, Sitarganj sugar mill had a 12,500 quintal of cane crushing capacity per day and in 1991-92, with the addition of new plants, the capacity was stepped up to 25,000 quintals per day. Despite the crushing capacity of the mill being enhanced, it started making losses due to various factors including high production cost.
“The government has taken a decision (to operate the mill on PPP mode) at a time when crushing season was about to begin. This leaves us with no other option. If there is no crushing, we fear that the crop might dry in the field,” said Prakash Tiwari, a farmer.
Vineet Joshi, general manager of the sugar mill said that they were ready to begin the crushing, but now the management is clueless.
“We were ready with the machinery and establishment of sugarcane purchase centres. Now we are awaiting fresh order from the department on whether to start the mill,” said Joshi.
Saurabh Bahuguna, MLA of Sitarganj, said, “I was in constant touch with the sugarcane minister Prakash Pant on this and wanted the loss making unit to be operated on PPP mode in the interest of government and farmers. The mill is reeling under heavy loss and it is increasing every year. In this condition, we have no option other than PPP mode. Though, this process will take time, farmers should not be worried because government will purchase sugar cane from farmers and supply to Kichha, Bajpur, and Nadehi sugar mill in the district.