Non-payment of dues to farmers may cost sugar mills

A slew of incentives announced by the Centre for the cash-strapped sugar industry has been put on hold due to non-payment of dues by a clutch of mill owners who, together, owe Rs 8,703 crore to farmers.

At a meeting called by Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, the sugar industry representatives were asked to give a written undertaking within 15 days on clearance of arrears if they were interested in availing the incentives.

The Centre had announced additional interest-free loans for the industry, increase in import duty from 15 per cent to 40 per cent, export subsidy and allowing 10 per cent ethanol-blending with petrol.

“These incentives to the sector could lead to increase in sugar prices. Why should we take a bad name if the industry is not paying the farmers,” Paswan asked while speaking to reporters here.
He said mill owners in Uttar Pradesh owe the maximum arrears (Rs 5,304 crore) to farmers. Mills in Karnataka owe Rs 1,763.46 crore to cane farmers and those in Maharashtra owe Rs 69.64 crore.

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