By Laxman Kafle Kathmandu, Jan. 20: Sugar mills have paid Rs. 573 million to the sugarcane farmers so far. According to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, the sugar mills who owed farmers Rs. 653.1 million, have paid Rs. 573 million to them since a four-point agreement binding the sugar mill owners to clear their dues within 21 days was reached between sugarcane farmers and the government on December 28, 2020. Spokesperson of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Dr. Narayan Prasad Regmi, said that dues payment to the farmers in the last three weeks was satisfactory and that the government had been working tirelessly to release the remaining amount. “With the initiative of the government, the outstanding dues have dropped to Rs. 80.1 million from Rs. 1.40 billion a year ago,” he told The Rising Nepal. Over the last three weeks, Annapurna Sugar Mill has paid Rs. 108.8 million to the farmers and deposited Rs. 17.6 million to its bank account to pay for them later. Similarly, Lumbini Sugar Mill has paid Rs. 51.6 million and around Rs. 30 million has been blocked at its bank account so as to make it pay the amount it owes to the concerned farmers. Shree Ram Sugar Mill has cleared its outstanding dues of Rs. 350 million. The Ministry said that Indira Sugar Mill had paid only Rs. 15 million out of Rs. 47 million so far and that Mahalaxmi Sugar Mill, which owes Rs. 2 million to the farmers, was yet to pay any. As per the sugar mill owners, payment has been hampered due to lack of farmers’ bank accounts. Regmi said that the sugar mill owners should pay the farmers at any cost as the Ministry of Home Affairs had issued arrest warrant against non-paying mill owners through the concerned district administration offices. In line with the aforementioned agreement, a technical committee has been formed to resolve the discrepancies that have appeared in dues clearance, and it has started working, said Regmi. The committee has representatives from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Ministry of Home Affairs, Nepal Sugar Producers Association and sugarcane farmers’ struggle committee.