CPIML Bihar State Secretary Kunal has demanded from the Bihar government that it should restart the Riga sugar mill in Sitamarhi District without delay. In a statement from Patna on 18 January he said that the month of January is about to end but the cane crushing session has not even started. The mill remains shut. As a result about 40,000 cane farmers and 700 mill workers are facing a grave livelihood crisis.

He said that contrary to all claims by Nitish Kumar, there are only 11 sugar mills remaining in the State. After the Riga sugar mill closes down this number will be further reduced to 10. About 15 lakh quintals of sugar cane are standing in the fields, valued at about 50 crores of rupees. All these cane crops are getting wasted. Payment of Rs 60 to 70 crores to farmers are still pending. Bank claims on cane prices given through KCC are also around Rs 60 crores. Rs 2.5 crores are also pending dues to mill workers from the management. The situation has become very grave. People are protesting, but the mill has not yet started.

Comrade Kunal said that as per our information the Riga mill management has written to the government that they are unable to run the mill. No initiave in this direction has been evinced so far from the government and administration. This is a very irresponsible attitude. The government should take the initiative to restart the mill.

Sikta MLA, cane farmer and Kisan Mahasabha State Convener Virendra Prasad Gupta said that sugar mills in the State have been running for the past 2.5 months but sugar cane price for the 2020-21 session has not yet been fixed. The cost of diesel, fertilizers, pesticides and essential farming equipment is consistently increasing, as has the cost of cane products like sugar and ethanol. But it is extremely reprehensible that sugar cane price for farmers is yet to be fixed. Our demand is that the price of sugar cane for the current session should be fixed at Rs 400 per quintal.

MLA Virendra Prasad Gupta further pointed out that payments due from last year have not been paid in the Sasamusa, Gopalganj and Sidhwalia sugar mills. Now Riga farmers are also being told to supply their sugar cane to the above mills. This is against the farmers' interests. This diktat should be cancelled and the Riga sugar mill should be started. Arrangements should be made to pay farmers' arrears within 14 days as per the rule. If payment is not made within 14 days, payment with interest as per rule should be guaranteed. Last years arrears from medium sugar mills should be paid with interest. Playing games like declaring sugar cane as high, general or low varieties and reducing prices must be stopped. The 2061 varieties declared low category this year must be declared general category. The practice of short-weighing sugar cane by 6% to 8% must be stopped immediately. Dharmkantas (weighing machines) under farmers' control should be arranged through the money from farmers' cess. Measurement and supply invoie process of sugar cane covered areas should be made transparent. Supply invoices of small and medium farmers are given last, making sugar cane farming very burdensome for them. This should be corrected and their sugar cane should be procured first.

MLA Virendra Prasad Gupta has also written to the Bihar Chief Minister, Sugar Cane Minister ans Chief Secretary Sugar Cane Department on these issues and asked for immediate intervention in this matter.