Govt to take steps to address sugar industry problems

Ram Vilas Paswan
New Delhi, Aug 8: Sharing concern of members in the Lok Sabha, government today said steps will be taken to address problems afflicting the sugar industry, for which it has decided to provide soft loans of Rs 6,600 crore to enable payment of mounting dues to cane growers and have a 10 per cent blend of ethanol in petrol.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the money would go directly into the accounts of farmers so as to avoid any malpractice by the mills. He said that he has called a meeting of representatives of all concerned-farmers, and cooperative and private sugar mills on August 14 to sort out the issues facing the industry.

This is because the situation in states like Uttar Pradesh has become "alarming". He said when he took over, outstanding dues were of the tune of Rs 13,000 crore. In UP, it came down to Rs 4,632 crore as on June 15 and as on July 7, the figure stood at Rs 5,741 crore.

"We have to have a holistic approach. We are concerned that situation may deteriorate if farmers come on the roads and sugar mills down their shutters," he said responding to a calling attention of Satyapal Singh and Krishna Raj (both BJP).

He said mill owners cannot do injustice to farmers and they should pay their dues and it is the duty of the state governments to ensure that the farmers are paid. Paswan said that after a meeting with Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan it has been decided to mix 10 per cent of ethanol in petrol, which would go a long way in helping the sugar industry and the cane growers.

He said that there was a proposal to increase import duty on sugar from 15 per cent to 40 per cent, but there are apprehensions that this will lead to increase in rate of sugar by Rs 4 to Rs 5 per kg. He said that as on July 31 this year, the outstanding amount of sugarcane farmers in the country on sugar mills is Rs 9,252 crore and in Uttar Pradesh it is Rs 5,741 crore.


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