Over 80% sugarcane dues cleared for states: Food ministry

New Delhi: The central government on Wednesday said about 87 per cent sugarcane dues have been paid for the season 2015-16. The Food and Consumer Affairs Ministry in a statement said here that sugarcane price arrears for sugar season 2015-16 have come down to Rs 6,225 crore. During the corresponding period last year these dues stood at Rs 19,437 crore.  Giving the break-up, the ministry said the highest share of arrears went to Uttar Pradesh at Rs 2,428 crore followed by Rs 1,325 crore for Karnataka. Other states' shares were: Bihar Rs 143 crore, Punjab Rs 28 crore, Uttrakhand Rs 198 crore, Andhra Pradesh Rs 181 crore, Telangana Rs 99 crore, Gujarat Rs 255 crore and Maharashtra Rs 883 crore. Other states which also got the benefits are Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Goa, the statement said. In May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his unhappiness over the non-payment of full dues to sugarcane growers. Addressing a rally in Saharanpur on May 27 to mark the second anniversary of the NDA government, Modi said the Centre has given money to the state governments for paying the dues of cane growers, but their dues are still outstanding. The arrears for cane growers were decided by the central government based on its fair and remunerative price (FRP) of Rs 230 per quintal for cane fixed in the 2015-16 crushing season but the cane dues stood at much higher in Uttar Pradesh at around Rs 5,700 crore based on the UP government's "state advised price" of Rs 280/quintal. According to sources in the Uttar Pradesh Cane Development Department, the arrears the sugar mill owners owe to the state's farmers are the "highest in the country".  The UP State Sugarmill Association recently highlighted the "financial crisis" facing the sugar industry and has often argued that the mills were unable to pay dues to the farmers at rates decided by the state and central authorities.