Lahore [Pakistan], May 19 (ANI): Farmers in Pakistan have slammed the passage of a new law controlling sugar factories, saying that their rights have been compromised in the amendment act in contrast to what they were provided in last year's ordinance.
According to Dawn, Punjab's agriculture department said they were not made a part of the law-making process as the Sugar Factories (Control) (Amendment) Act 2021 was passed on May 4 by the provincial Assembly.
The new act has fixed November 30 as the last date for starting the sugarcane crushing season while the ordinance had empowered the government to give a date for the purpose.
It also allowed sugar millers to pay dues to the farmers by June 30, against just 15 days from purchase of the sugarcane in the now repealed ordinance.
In a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan Kissan Ittehad President Khalid Mahmood Khokhar said that the measures in the previous ordinance to safeguard rights of the farmers have been abolished through the act, alleging the pressure of the sugar mafia to be behind the legislation, reported Dawn.
"Assemblies are supposed to protect the rights of masses (farmers & consumers) in a democracy. Unfortunately, the Punjab Assembly and the provincial government mischievously passed the amendment act in which the sugar mafia's exploitation was allowed officially; mills will start functioning till Nov 30, instead of Oct 1, CPR [cane procurement receipt] encashment allowed till June 30, instead of payable within 15 days of issuance of the CPR," he said.
"The government's control or any authority stands abolished and the sugar mafia has been given full control to exploit the farmers and consumers," he added.
Seeking the immediate withdrawal of the act, Khokhar also demanded the removal of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar as well as the provincial law minister. He also threatened to stage a protest in front of the Punjab Assembly till the act is withdrawn.
Meanwhile, the Kissan Board Pakistan said that the nexus of the sugar mafia and corrupt politicians has broken the back of the poor farmers through the law.
In a statement, the board said that 'illegal' deductions from the dues and non-payment had been non-bailable offences under the earlier ordinance but the new act made them non-cognisable offences, Dawn reported.
The board regretted that the sugarcane growers will now have to wait for seven months for payment of their dues, while the cane commissioner has been barred from taking action against the millers for non-payment of dues to the farmers.
Punjab's Cane Commissioner Muhammad Zaman Wattoo had received hundreds of complaints against delayed, non-payments or illegal deductions in the last crushing season that ended in the first week of April. He asked grieving farmers to approach him after June 30 as under the new law, he could not take any action against the millers. (ANI)