Apex court asks sugar mills to pay higher prices to farmers


Lucknow : For the thriving sugar mills of Uttar Pradesh, sugar may taste bitter after the Supreme Court asked them Friday to pay sugarcane growers Rs.125 per quintal instead of Rs.85 per quintal that the mill owners wanted to pay.

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The Allahabad High Court had earlier directed the mill owners to pay Rs.110 per quintal.

Turning down the plea of mill owners to pay at a low rate of Rs.85 per quintal, the high court had fixed a price of Rs.110 per quintal for sugarcane purchased during the 2006-07 crushing season.

The Supreme Court has now asked the mill owners to pay farmers the state advised price (SAP), which stood at Rs.125 for both 2006-07 as well as 2007-08.

The apex court’s Friday order was specific for 2006-07.

Uttar Pradesh Cane Commissioner Kamran Rizvi told IANS here: “We appealed against the Allahabad High Court order of December 19, whereby operation of the government determined SAP of Rs.125 per quintal for the 2006-07 crushing season was stayed.”

“The Allahabad High Court had also restrained the state government from taking any coercive measure against any mill owner,” he said.

However, “the apex court has now clearly directed mill owners to pay up the pending sugarcane dues of Rs.8.7 billion to farmers at the rate of Rs.125 per quintal for that year,” he pointed out.

Rizvi has already initiated punitive action against several mill owners for non-payment of dues for 2007-08.

On Jan 12, Sanjay Channana, owner of the Kaptanganj Sugar Mills in Kushinagar district, was arrested for non-payment of dues amounting to Rs.90 million.

“First information reports have been lodged against the owners of Bajaj group of sugar mills, whose dues were a whopping Rs.320 million, while yet another case was registered against Pritam Singh, the owner of Nawabganj Sugar Mill in Barielly,” the cane commissioner said.