U.P. orders probe into sale of sugar mills

BSP was in power in Uttar Pradesh from 2007 to 2012.

Updated - April 09, 2017 12:54 am IST

Published - April 08, 2017 06:31 pm IST - LUCKNOW

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Days after ordering a judicial inquiry into the alleged financial mishandling of the Gomti River Front project — a pet scheme of former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav — the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has ordered a probe into the sale of sugar mills during the tenure of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) under Ms Mayawati. The BSP was in power in U.P. from 2007 to 2012.

Sensing a “scam” of ₹1,100 crore, CM Adityanath has ordered an inquiry into the sale of 21 sugar mills in the State during 2010-11. If required, a CBI probe could also be instituted, he said.

“He said that no person has the right to sell government property for a song. The property belongs to the people. Its misuse will not be allowed at any cost,” a government spokesperson said, quoting the Chief Minister’s instructions.

Cane arrear payments

Mr. Adityanath also directed sugarcane mills to pay arrears to farmers for the crushing season 2016-2017 by April 23 under any circumstances. An FIR would be registered against cane mill owners if they did not comply with the order, the government spokesperson said.

“Relief to cane farmers is the government’s topmost priority,” Mr. Adityanath was quoted as having told officials during a presentation by the sugarcane department on Friday. Mr. Adityanath also directed officials to ensure that cooperative sugar mills that are shut get the “necessary arrangements” and procedure is followed for their timely commissioning for the financial year 2018-19.

The government’s urgency in reviewing the working of the sugarcane department comes days after it took a step towards fulfilling a key poll promise and announced a waiver of farm loans up to ₹1 lakh. In its election manifesto, the BJP had also promised to bring in a system to ensure payment to sugarcane farmers within 14 days of sale and said their dues would be cleared within 120 days of the party coming to power.

According to a spokesperson, after coming to power, the government had already paid ₹2,923 crore of sugarcane cost to sugarcane farmers. This was 21% more than in the previous crushing season. For the 2016-17 season, the government had already paid ₹17,840 crore of the total liability of ₹18,000 crore. The government further claimed that it had made all payments to cooperative sugar mills, and that the arrears of ₹162 crore to be paid to five private mills would be ensured on a priority basis.

The CM has also directed senior officers to ensure that complaints of cane farmers are resolved on priority basis by arranging “Ganna Kisan Diwas” once every month at the sugarcane samiti level. The 116 sugarcane mills active in the State have also been instructed to adopt 580 villages over the next five years as Adarsh Grams.

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