Odisha: Nayagarh sugar mill’s future remains uncertain

Nayagarh: Nayagarh district in Odisha is home to a single industry, the Nayagarh Sugar mill, which has been shut down, leaving sugarcane farmers and workers in distress. Despite repeated demands for its reopening, the mill’s future remains uncertain, reported KalingaTV.

Since the Nayagarh Sugar Factory’s closure in 2014, sugarcane farmers and workers have been living in misery. It has been alleged that the sugar mill issue becomes a political agenda only during elections, but is forgotten once the polls are over.

The soil in Nayagarh and its surrounding areas is ideal for sugarcane cultivation. This led farmers in Nayagarh to grow sugarcane and traditionally produce jaggery.

Mill was established in 1988 to support farmers and provide employment. The State Co-operative Department set it up, and it was inaugurated by the then Congress MLA of Nayagarh, the late Banshidhar Sahu.

At the time, hundreds of sugarcane farmers were happy. Sugarcane growers in Nayagarh, Phulbani, and Khurda districts greatly benefited from this industry, which Dharani Sugar operated. However, the industry was closed for four years as Dharani Sugar failed to operate it.

In response to the demands of workers and farmers, the state government sold the industry to industrialist Trailokyanath Mishra in 2004.

Everything was fine until 2014 when the sugar mill suddenly stopped operating.

The mill was situated on 143 acres of land in Panipoila under the Balugaon Panchayat of Nayagarh district. The industry requires 170,000 metric tonnes of sugarcane annually. About 12,000 farmers supplied sugarcane, and the factory employed 190 permanent and 380 temporary workers.

However, around 13,000 families suffered due to the mill’s closure. Workers, intellectuals, and farmers raised their voices to restart the mill, forming the Nayagarh Sugar Mill Action Committee.

The movement intensified under this committee’s banner. The Action Committee repeatedly approached the District Collector, local MLAs, and the state government, and even called for a Nayagarh Bandh. Despite all efforts, no resolution was found.

In the general elections of 2009, 2014, 2019, and 2024, the sugar mill issue was a primary concern for each political party. Before the 2019 election, a meeting was held involving political party leaders, the district administration, and Action Committee workers, where a commitment was made to restart the mill. However, the promises were not fulfilled post-election.

Sitting Puri MP Dr Sambit Patra has asserted that the sugar mill will be operational within 100 days or a new mill will be established and inaugurated by the Prime Minister.

On the other hand, Nayagarh MLA Arun Sahu stated that the case is pending in court, making it difficult to revive the mill soon.

The Managing Director of Nayagarh Sugar Mill mentioned that the factory could operate again with the cooperation of farmers, workers, and politicians. If the MP wishes, it will start operations again.


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