Tribune News Service
Ambala, September 20
Finally, there is a sigh of relief for over 5,400 sugarcane farmers and over 400 mill workers who were awaiting their payments and salaries, respectively, for the past several months. The private sugar mill in Naraingarh, which owes the farmers Rs79.5 crore and its workers salaries for the past five months, has started clearing the arrears.
Today, the mill disbursed Rs5 crore arrears to the farmers and the rest will be paid within the next two days.
Confirming the development, Naraingarh Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Aditi told The Tribune that the mill had started making the payments after it got a loan of Rs60 crore from the state government.
On August 31, the Cabinet had approved a loan of Rs60 crore to Naraingarh sugar mill for clearing the arrears amounting to Rs79.5 crore of over 5,400 sugarcane farmers.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had taken note of the indefinite ‘Jal Satyagraha’ protest launched by the peasants in Naraingarh on August 21. The protest was called off after the state government came to their rescue on August 31. Besides the farmers, over 400 mill workers were also awaiting their salaries for the past five months.
The SDM said the mill had already procured a loan of Rs60 crore and was in the process of getting its dues of Rs12 crore from the power department. Regarding the shortfall of Rs7.5 crore in the arrears to be paid by the mill and the money which it was getting, the mill management has assured the administration that it would issue post-dated cheques for that amount.
“Besides the farmers, the mill workers will also be paid their dues,” said the SDM, who remained a vital link between the farmers, mill management and the state government to resolve the issue.
Khattar had last month formed a high-level panel, led by Chief Secretary Keshni Anand Arora, to resolve the issue.
As many as 5,432 sugarcane growers were awaiting arrears of Rs79.5 crore from the mill since January. The payment, as per norms, has to be cleared within 14 days of purchase of sugarcane.
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