Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Police issues arrest warrant against operators of four sugar mills

 The Police today issued arrest warrants against owners of four defaulting sugar mills.

The respective district police offices of Rautahat and Nawalparasi have issued arrest warrants against the owners of Indira Sugar Mill, Annapurna Sugar Mill, Shree Ram Sugar Mill and Lumbini Sugar Mill, confirmed Home Ministry. “The ministry – after a marathon meeting with stakeholders yesterday – decided to take action against the ‘defaulting’ mills owners.”

A meeting of four ministers including Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Lekh Raj Bhatta, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Development Ghanashyam Bhusal and Minister for Federal Affairs and General Administration Hridyesh Tripathi – chaired by Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa – has directed District Administration Offices to take lawful action against mill owners, who have not cleared the dues to the farmers. The government has been blamed for being siding with the mill owners, as the farmers have not been paid since last six years.

Some 300 farmers – from Rautahat, Nawalparasi and many other districts – have been protesting in the capital since Sunday to pressurise the government to get their outstanding payments. They have been demanding that their dues – worth more than Rs 480 million since past six years – be paid at the earliest. 

According to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Annapurna Sugar Mill of Sarlahi has Rs 170 million outstanding dues, Indira Sugar Mill in Nawalparasi Rs 40.70 million, Lumbini Sugar Mill Rs 80.41 million, and Shree Ram Sugar Mill Rs 350 million. The sugar mill owners though accepted that they have around Rs 550 million in outstanding dues, the farmers are claiming that they have Rs 900 million dues yet to be cleared.

The police was forced to take action after farmers filed complaints in the district police offices of Rautahat and Nawalparasi. “District Police Office in Rautahat has issued arrest warrant against Hitesh Golchha, Bishal Agrawal and Anuj Agrawal of Shree Ram Sugar Mill,” the ministry informed, adding that District Police Office in Nawalparasi has issued arrest warrant against Rakesh Agrawal, owner of Annapurna Sugar Mills in Sarlahi and Indira Sugar Mills in Nawalparasi, and Sushila Goyal, proprietor of Lumbini Sugar Mill.

According to the Criminal Code-2017, anyone found guilty of fraud can be jailed up to seven years. Last January too, the Home Ministry had ordered the arrest of sugar mill owners – after the farmers staged protest in the capital – who had not cleared a large amount of dues owed to sugarcane farmers. Though, no one was arrested. 

The government signed an agreement with farmers last year to clear the dues but failed to implement the agreement signed.

Thus, the protesting sugarcane farmers are not impressed with the government decision this time. They said they will continue their peaceful protest till they get paid.

Generally, sugar mill owners buy sugarcane on credit from the farmers and are supposed to pay them after selling the sugar. But, the mill owners have been failing to pay them since long 

The farmers have also suggested to make the payment from the Prime Minister Relief Fund or any other fund and can recoup it from sugar mill owners with interest afterwards.

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