Tribune press service

Ambala, April 22

Angered by the delay in sugarcane payments, farmers staged a shirtless protest against Naraingarh Sugarmills in Ambala today.

Farmers said the cane crushing season ended earlier this month but payments of over Rs 80 crore were pending.

Forced to protest

Each year, sugar cane producers are forced to organize demonstrations to claim their due. They also need money to meet their expenses. We are only given assurances for a long time. Singara Singh, chair, 21-member committee

In accordance with the standards, payment must be made within 14 days of purchase.

Farmers gathered at the grain market and staged a march in support of their demand. They also waved slogans against the government.

Farmers said this year they suffered crop losses for wheat, mustard and potato, and now payment for sugar cane has been blocked.

“The government paid no attention to the plight of the farmers. We have been holding a dharna for almost a month, but to no avail,” the protesters added.

Singara Singh, chairman of the 21-member committee formed for the unrest, said: “Every year, sugar cane farmers are forced to stage protests over their payments. The cane crushing ended on April 7 and payments of over Rs 80 crore are still due. Farmers also need money to meet their expenses. We are only given assurances. We decided to meet with the commissioner of the Ambala division on May 2 for the payment.

Subdivision Magistrate Naraingarh Niraj, who is also the general manager of the sugar factory, said, “Farmers are demanding full payment but the factory is unable to settle the amount. The factory bought sugar cane worth around Rs 165 crore, settled payments of over Rs 84 crore for this year and 66 crore for the previous season. The plant will release Rs 20 crore in the coming days.

“The factory has to keep about Rs 13 crore for maintenance, employee salaries and payments from some suppliers. Around Rs 61 crore will be pending for the next season,” he added.

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