Farmers from four districts – Chhota Udepur, Vadodara, Narmada, and Panchmahals want the government to hear their pleas which so far have gone unheard. According to the Indian Express, they are planning a protest during the unveiling of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s statute by Prime Minister Modi on October 31.
The world’s tallest statute stands erected just a few kilometers away from the Sardar Sugar Mill which shut its doors eleven years ago due to financial problems. The Indian Express states that the farmers had sold over 2 lakh tonnes of sugar cane to the mill, and since then have been waiting for their payment.
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The report further states that the mill had been going through a financial crisis for years. “Due to irregularities of funds and mismanagement, the Sardar Sugar Mill was shut down.” An audit report found discrepancies in the funds. This led to shutting down. Moreover, the mill had a debt of Rs 10 crore and it was auctioned for Rs 36 crore in 2011 to Sitaram Sugar, a Mumbai based firm. But the farmers got nothing from it.
The farmers are clearly unimpressed with the government erecting the statue as their needs have not been met. The BBC reported that many households in the rural and tribal Narmada District live in hunger; families are not able to send their children to school and malnourishment.
The government believes the statue will boost the state’s economy and attract tourists from all over the world. But farmers want to know why the government didn’t use the same funds to benefit their lives?