On Sunday, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hit out at the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi over pending dues to sugarcane farmers. Taking to Twitter, Priyanka said the Rs 10,000 crore pending to farmers meant education for their children, food, health and the next harvest were compromised. Priyanka took a dig at Modi, saying he was only a ‘chowkidar’ for the rich and did not bother about the poor.
According to data compiled by the Cane Commissioner’s Office in Lucknow, as on March 22, the state’s sugar mills have bought cane worth Rs 24,888.65 crore during the current 2018-19 crushing season (October-September) at the state government’s fixed (“advised”) price of Rs 315 per quintal for normal and Rs 325 per quintal for early-maturing varieties. They were to pay Rs 22,175.21 crore within the stipulated 14-day period of taking cane delivery. But the actual payments have been only Rs 12,339.04 crore, translating into arrears of Rs 9,836.17 crore. Adding the dues of Rs 238.81 crore from the previous 2017-18 season takes the total to Rs 10,074.98 crore, the Indian Express reported.
Here it is to be noted that of the Rs 10,074.98 crore, over 45 per cent is due from mills in Meerut, Baghpat, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor and Saharanpur. Voting in these six seats is to be held on April 11. Cane growers are also numerically significant in Bulandshahr and Amroha, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Bareilly and Pilibhit, Gonda and Kushinagar among others, all of which are set for the upcoming elections. In its 2017 Assembly election manifesto, the BJP had promised that its government would ensure farmers got full payment for their cane within 14 days of sale — a provision which exists in the UP Sugarcane (Regulation of Supply and Purchase) Act of 1953.