Monday, September 21, 2020

Punjab

Pending dues be paid to sugarcane growers with interest: Harpal Singh Cheema

PUNJAB NEWS EXPRESS | May 31, 2020 06:20 PM

CHANDIGARH: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Punjab has demanded that the dues worth billions of rupees pending against the cooperative and private sugar mills in Punjab for more than two years now be released to the sugarcane growers with interest.

The party has warned that if the government and owners of private sugar mills failed to clear the long-pending arrears with interest to farmers within 10 days, the party would be left with no choice but to hold state-wide protests.

In a joint statement issued from party headquarters in Chandigarh on Saturday, senior leader of the party and Leader of Opposition (LoP), Harpal Singh Cheema, Garhshanker MLA Jai Krishan Singh Rouri said that sugarcane dues worth more than Rs 750 crore were pending against government's cooperative and private sugar mills in the state for a pretty long time now.
Cheema said that during the long spells of corona-induced national lockdown, sugarcane growers, like many other sections of society had run short of money to meet their expenses to be incurred on sowing and maintenance of their next crop, while the sugar mill owners were denying payment of the farmers’ hard-earned money for a long time now. He added that in most of the cases, top Congress and Akali leaders were owning private sugar mills which owed a whopping amount Rs. 300 crore to farmers and so do government cooperative sugar mills in the state, saying the government was playing in the hands of private sugar mill mafia.

MLA Jai Krishan Singh Rouri said that due to corona virus pandemic, the government had deferred the recovery of bank loans for three months, alleging that whenever the farmers approached banks for loan/ limits for the next crop, pressure was being mounted on them to pay the previous loan with interest, which was quite unfair. He further informed that the farmers who were not paying back the pending loans, were forced to pay up to 11 per cent interest plus 4 per cent extra as interest on account default, by the cooperative banks.

Harpal Singh Cheema and Jai Krishan Singh Rouri said that, while on the one hand the farmers were denied the benefit of interest free loan for Rs. worth 20-50 thousand, on the other hand sugar mills were keeping heavy amounts on account of sugarcane dues to farmers worth billions of rupees without interest for more than two years by private mill owners.
The AAP leaders said that SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal and Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar could be often seen shedding crocodile tears, day in and day out, in support of farmers, but would never ever press the sugar mill owners hard to release the pending amount, for the mills were owned either by Akali or Congress leaders.

Elaborating on the matter, the AAP leaders said that the Chadha family, closely associated to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh owning Kiri Afghana Sugar Mill owed Rs 145 crore to farmers, Rs 128 crore towards Mukerian Sugar Mill owned by UP Congress leader DP Yadav and Rs 20 crore towards Dhuri Sugar Mill, Butter Sugar Mill owned by MLA Rana Gurjeet Singh owed Rs. 40 crore to, Rs. 83 crore owed by Sukhbir Singh Badal's close aide and senior Akali Dal leader Jarnail Singh Wahid and so on and so forth.

The AAP leaders has demanded that the arrears be paid to the sugarcane grower with interest within 10 days, failing which it would stage state-wide protests in support of the farmers.

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