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Non-payment of notified rates: Sugarcane growers warn of staging sit-in outside SC against mills

Peshawar

June 13, 2018

PESHAWAR: The sugarcane growers and farmers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will hold a sit-in in front of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) in Islamabad if the sugar mills owners continue to refuse to pay them the notified rate for their crop.

The sugarcane growers also warned of staging a protest rally outside the Prime Minister’s House to convey their grievances to the caretaker rulers about the injustices being meted out to them.

The growers and farmers sent the warning during a meeting on Tuesday that was chaired by veteran politician and leader of the farmers of the province, Abdur Rehman Khan of Kafoor Dheri. A number of sugarcane growers and farmers attended the meeting.

They added that after having settled for a compromise on payments with mills during the hearing of the case in the Supreme Court, the farmers came back with the hope that the millers would pay them Rs180 per 40 kilograms as notified by the government.

However, the “obstinate” mills owners raised the payment to different slabs of Rs140 to Rs155 for 40kg in the province.

The representatives of the farmers waved the copies of the verdict of the SC and said that the mills even during the hearing in the apex court confessed that they were not paying the notified rates. The mills, as shown in the SC judgment, were paying from Rs140 to Rs160 per 40kg.

Quoting the mills-wised assurance that was given to the Supreme Court last month, the millers pledged to pay the arrears to the growers and payment for their crop as per notified rate. But, the growers lamented that the mills’ owners have never honoured their own commitments.

The growers said that was the government that announced Rs180 per 40 kg and now it was its obligation to make the mills pay the notified prices for the sugarcane. However, the sugar mills still refused to pay the notified prices, saying it is unviable in the context of low sugar prices, point out farmers’ representatives.

They said the growers had been demanding a shift to a revenue-sharing formula based on prices of sugar and byproducts, adding that any higher price should be compensated by the government.

The farmers said that the government had declined to bear any part of the over-due claimed by farmers and it has left it to the mills to pay the farmers different rates based on the mill-wise commitment given to the apex court.

They also claimed that due the policy of the government and adamant attitude of the mills, the growers’ output dwindled and over the last two years, sugarcane planting had steadily declined in the militancy-ravaged Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The growers said that it was one major cash crop in the province and the government should fulfil its responsibility in dealing with the mills to save it.

Besides, Abdur Rehman Khan, Arbab Jamil, and Vice-President Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry Muhammad Zahir Khan also spoke during the meeting where a strategy for the protest was finalized.

The sugarcane growers warned to hold a sit-in outside the building of the Supreme Court after Eidul Fitr if the mills owners didn’t pay them the notified rates for their crop.

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