The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has decided to partially freeze the bank accounts of three sugar mills whose owners are at large as they owe millions of rupees to sugarcane farmers.
Financial transactions of three mills — Annapurna Sugar and General Enterprises, Indira Sugar and Agro Enterprises and Lumbini Sugar Industry — except the amount owed to farmers, would be frozen till they clear their dues.
According to media reports, Annapurna Sugar and General Enterprises has only cleared Rs 39 million of Rs 420 million owed to farmers. Similarly, Indira Sugar and Agro Enterprises has paid only Rs 7.4 million of the Rs 100 million in dues.
The ministry has no data on the amount owed by Lumbini Sugar Industry as its proprietor Rakesh Kumar Goyal has passed away.
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has sought support of Ministry of Home Affairs to locate Rakesh Kumar Agrawal, proprietor of Annapurna Sugar Mill.
While Mahalaxmi Sugar Pvt Ltd has paid only Rs 115 million of the Rs 214 million in dues, it is in contact with farmers and has committed to pay outstanding dues. So, the ministry will not take action against it.
Also, Shree Ram Sugar Mills has reached agreement with farmers that it will sell its land to clear outstanding dues of Rs 267 million.
Owners of three other sugar mills — Baba Baijunath Sugar Industry, Bagmati Khandsari Sugar Mills and Mahakali Sugar Enterprises — are also out of contact and the ministry will soon decide what to do with them, it has been reported.
Himalaya Sugar Mills, Indu Shankar Sugar Industry, Eastern Sugar Mills and Bhageshowor Sugar enterprises cleared their dues within the given deadline of January 21. Reliance Sugar and Chemicals and Everest Sugar and Chemicals have also cleared dues to farmers who have bank accounts.
Meanwhile, subsidy amount worth Rs 230 million released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has been distributed in five districts — Sunsari, Siraha, Bara, Nawalparasi and Kanchanpur.
Subsidy distribution was delayed due to the administrative processes of the respective local governments, according to Bhattarai. Of the total subsidy amount of Rs 1.32 billion, the Ministry of Finance is yet to release Rs 810 million.