Private sugar mills in the state have not followed the state government’s guidelines to advance crushing operations to the first week of November, creating problem for thousands of sugarcane growers.
The cooperative sugar mills, however, have started crushing as per the schedule on November 7. Two major private mills of Yamunanagar and Karnal’s Bhadshon have not started crushing yet with only one private sugar mill in Ambala’s Naraingarh having followed the guidelines.
After delay in crushing operations, the farmers under the banner of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) are holding protests. They blocked the Yamunanagar-Saharanpur highway for more than an hour on Tuesday.
Officials of the state agriculture department said the government had issued directions to all cooperative and private sugar mills to advance the crushing operations following an increase in area under sugarcane cultivation.
Karam Singh, cane adviser to Piccadily Sugar Mill, Badshon, said, “We have decided to start crushing from November 15 and we have informed the government about this”.
He refused to acknowledge that sugarcane acreage has increased in the state and farmers are holding protests. “There is no increase in sugarcane acreage in our area,” he claimed.
Whereas, the farmers alleging that the delay in crushing operations will cost them heavily and they will not be able to sow wheat crop and mills could not crush the entire produce on time.
“We held a protest outside Yamunanagar’s Saraswati Sugar Mill (which crushes about 1.70 crore quintals of sugarcane every year) but the mill officials said they cannot start the crushing before November 21 due to construction work,” said Dharam Pal, a farmer from Yamunanagar district.
The mill’s chief operating officer SC Sachdeva could not be contacted after repeated attempts. Even as the private mills citing construction work behind their inability to start crushing, sources said they are doing so due to low sugar output in the early crushing.
The farmers having tie-up with these mills cannot sell their produce to other mills as they do not have tie-up with the cooperative mills. The mills continue the crushing by end of May as sugar output from sugarcane crushed after March gets higher.
Additional cane commissioner to Haryana agriculture department JS Brar said, “In the October 13 meeting of the Sugarcane Control Board it was decided to advance the crushing operations from third week of November to first week. All the mills, including the private ones, were told to follow the guidelines.”
Whether the government will take action against the mills, Brar said, “We will write to these mills again to advance crushing.”
The sugarcane acreage in the state has jumped to 1.25 lakh hectares, registering an increase of 22%. Though the state has 11 government-run sugar mills, the crushing capacity of these mills was not as per the requirement and farmers have to depend on three private sugar mills which crush over 50% of the produce.