- The suggestion came just ahead of sugarcane-crushing season
- The remark drew strong criticism from opposition parties in the state
- Sources close to Yogi Adityanath said that his remark was made in jest
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath recently offered some curious advice to sugarcane farmers in the state who are still awaiting a whopping Rs 10,000 crore in dues: Stop cultivating the crop because it causes diabetes. The suggestion, made at a rally in Baghpat district two days ago, came just over a month before the start of the sugarcane-crushing season in the region.
"The bazaars of Delhi are located nearby. You are growing so much sugarcane that people are getting afflicted by 'sugar' (the term colloquially used for diabetes). You can make much more profit cultivating vegetables," Mr Adityanath said.
The remark drew strong criticism from opposition parties in the state. "By saying that farmers should stop cultivating sugarcane because it causes diabetes, the chief minister has added fuel to a fire already raging over his government's failure to clear agricultural dues. Instead, he could have asked his supporters to stop spreading hate and violence in society," Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav tweeted.
The BJP lost two crucial bypolls to the Kairana Lok Sabha and Noorpur assembly constituencies in western Uttar Pradesh, a hub for sugarcane cultivation, over the last few months. The government's failure to ensure payment of sugarcane dues to farmers was seen as a major reason for this development.
However, sources close to Mr Adityanath said that his remark was made in jest, and the government is committed to clearing all dues with immediate effect. They pointed out that he had warned of stern action against sugar mills that fail to clear pending payments by October 15 in the same rally.
Earlier this week, State Cane Development Minister Suresh Rana had also reiterated that the government will ensure payment of all sugarcane arrears to farmers before the start of the new season. A proposal to provide Rs 5,535 crore for the purpose of clearing sugarcane dues of both cooperative and private sectors will be placed before the cabinet soon, he added.
The sugarcane-crushing season in Uttar Pradesh extends from October 20 to November 5. The state accounted for 38% of the country's total sugar production of 27 million tonnes in 2017-18.
(With inputs from PTI)
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