Lucknow: Western Uttar Pradesh is known for its sugarcane. Reports even suggest that Lok Sabha elections in this part of the state would be fought over the issue of sugarcane dues. The sugarcane belt has some crucial seats of Uttar Pradesh. Seats like Baghpat, Meerut, Ghaziabad, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Bijnor, Kairana, Nagina, Saharanpur, Amroha and Moradabad could decide which way the votes will swing.

With both the Congress and the BSP gunning for the ruling BJP over sugarcane dues, reports suggest the state government has taken action. According to local media, while in 2017 sugarcane farmers’ dues ran up to Rs 6,401 crore, by 2019, the figure has shot up to Rs 12,472 crore. The state has 118 sugar mills of which 94 are private, 23 state-owned and one owned by the corporation.

Reports say that against the total worth of Rs 24,608 in the current season, Rs 12,137 has been paid which is a mere 49%.

The state government claims that in Meerut, Saharanpur, Moradabad and Bareilly zone, it has paid dues over Rs 6,000 crore and the money has reached farmers’ accounts as well. However, the Opposition has claimed that sugarcane farmers are owed Rs 700 crore in Meerut, Rs 552 crore in Shamli, Rs 650 crore in Bijnor, Rs 1,100 crore in Muzaffarnagar, Rs 400 crore in Baghpat and Rs 577 crore in Saharanpur.

State minister of state Suresh Rana was quoted by a local newspaper as saying that the state government has done all it could and that the previous governments of BSP, SP failed the farmers.

Sugarcane farmers have long been complaining about the payment of their dues. Only last year, Bharatiya Kisan Union had held an agitation. Kairana by-poll saw the Rashtriya Lok Dal win the seat by milking the issue and even coining the slogan of  ‘Jinnah nahi Ganna’.

A Hindi newspaper quoted BKU national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait as saying that the farmers have been let down by all parties. He said it would be a good idea to prop sugarcane farmers on the digital platform. That way, as soon as the crop reaches the mill, farmers would get their payment in their accounts.