Farmers, workers seek resumption of crushing at co-operative sugar mills 

The workers of the co-operative sugar mills and sugarcane farmers across the State have demanded that the State government reopen the mills this season.

Published: 23rd December 2021 05:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd December 2021 05:33 AM   |  A+A-

A spoon full of sugar

Image for representational purpose only (File photo)

Express News Service

VELLORE: The workers of the co-operative sugar mills and sugarcane farmers across the State have demanded the State government to reopen and operate the mills in this season. They urged the government to restart crushing operations at Ambur Co-op Sugar Mills in Tirupattur and National Co-op Sugar Mill at Alanganallur, Madurai during the 2021-22 period.

They have been non operational for more than two years, citing the non-availability of canes. However, workers allege record sugarcane produce registered in the mills and conducted a series of protests to kick off operations immediately. The workers also urge the government to release salary dues pending for the last nine months.

"The mill has been defunct for the last two years and officials blame inadequate sugarcane production. But, this year we have 50,000 MT sugarcanes registered with the Ambur mill. The livelihood of hundreds of employees is dependent on this mill," said Raj Kumar,  secretary of the employees union (CITU).

Initially, the workers at NPKRR Co-op, Sugar Mill in Mayiladuthurai had dropped their demand to reopen. Now, they have two options - either to get transferred to another mill or go back home.  Almost 60 workers out of 90 opted to get a transfer despite facing hardships. Workers, on anonymity, told TNIE, "We chose to get transferred to other mills due to compulsion and financial reasons. We also hope to receive payment of 12-month salary as soon as possible."

Not just the workers, the sugarcane farmers also have been protesting to restart crushing activity. According to farmers, over 90,000 tonnes of sugarcane is registered to the mill. Though the government made announcements that they have not initiated the ground works to operate, the farmers have been holding dharna in front of the mill since 8 days.

"In the last two years, the mill was not operated due to poor crop production, but this year the rain was good. We cultivated sugarcane after notice from the management this June. But the crushing didn't start yet. We request the government to divert the sugarcane registered in the nearby private mills which have not paid their dues to the farmers for more than four years. 2,30,000 MT canes can be crushed here," said KR Kathiresan, Madurai district secretary of Sugarcane farmers association.

A senior official from the Agriculture department told TNIE, "Since the area of cultivation is less, few mills were not opened this year. Six years back the sugarcane cultivation in the state was around two lakhs. Now they are halved. It's gradually decreasing due to various reasons. However, the sugarcane farmers will not be affected as their products would be diverted to a nearby mill. It is economically unviable to run mills with less cultivation."

Agriculture based industry cannot be run as a profit-oriented business. It's primarily a service-based industry to help farmers and locals, opined Tamil Nadu Sugarcane farmers association secretary Ravindran.

Tamil Nadu Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu couldn't be reached for comment.

DMK govt failed to fulfil promises made to govt staff: AIADMK
Chennai: The AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam on Wednesday said the DMK failed to fulfil its electoral promises to government employees. He was condemning Chief Minister MK Stalin’s remark that the previous AIADMK regime ruined the State’s economy.

Panneerselvam said in a statement here, “The interim budget for 2021-22, presented by the previous AIADMK government, said the State’s debt burden stood at `4.82 lakh crore as of March 31 and that it might go up to `5.70 lakh crore in the current financial year. Knowing this, the DMK promised to restore the old pension scheme for government employees, but they are unable to do so now.”

The AIADMK coordinator further said the DMK government’s revised budget had promised to implement reforms to set right the debt burden. But, it is not clear whether the government has initiated these measures.


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