Private sugar mills in the state have begun clearing previous year’s cane dues to sugarcane farmers, which currently stands at over Rs 2,000 crore.
In the last three months, hardly any payment was made in favour of dues for 2012-13, which stood at Rs 2,299.95 crore till December 10. However, in the last ten days, private mill owners have cleared dues worth Rs 240 crore to farmers, bringing down the dues to Rs 2,060 crore on December 19.
“We have started clearing dues as cane is being crushed and we are able to sell the sugar produced. The payments were slow earlier because the banks were not allowing us to sell the sugar produced in the last season,” said Deepak Guptara, Secretary, Uttar Pradesh Sugar Mills Association (UPSMA).
The mills are also awaiting the promised interest free loans that was declared earlier this month by the Centre, said Guptara. “Once we are able to draw the money through the scheme, we will be able to clear previous year’s dues,” he told The Indian Express. On December 6, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had declared interest free loans for the sugar industry, which is going through tough times because of falling sugar prices. The loan will be used to clear last year’s dues.
For the last crushing season that ended in May 2013, the private sugar mills of Uttar Pradesh crushed canes worth Rs 20,538 crore, of which Rs 18,478 crore have been paid. In the current crushing season, the 100-odd private sugar mills agreed to start crushing on December 1, while some of the 24 cooperative sugar mills started crushing operations by mid-November.
For the current crushing season, 556 lakh quintals of cane have been crushed to produce 48 lakh quintals till Thursday, said Bhupendra Singh Bisht, Chief Publicity Officer, Uttar Pradesh Cane Commissioner Office. Cooperative sugar mills have so far paid Rs 60.8 crore against their dues of Rs 138.65 crore, while private mills have cleared arrears worth Rs 6.73 crore against Rs 10.53 crore for 2013-14.