Speakers at programme Friday urged the government to undertake an initiative to make the country's sugar mills profitable, instead of shut down the mills on the pretext of losses.
They stated this while addressing a human chain event, organised in front of the National Press Club by sugar mill workers and their well-wishers, under the banner of the Faridpur Sugar Mills Family.
The human chain was formed demanding the reopening of six sugar mills of the country as well as the paying of dues of sugar mill workers, retired workers and sugarcane farmers.
Khorshed Alam Khasru, a representative of the Faridpur Sugar Mill Family and also president of Bangladesh Film Producers-Distributors Association, said, "The government has now stopped production at six sugar mills. We are the children of those sugar mill workers. We want this industry to stay in Bangladesh."
Khorshed Alam Khasru said that these sugar mills, which depend on sugarcane, produce sugar for only four months annually due to a lack of planning. Workers of the mills that have stopped production have not been paid for five months. The livelihood of five lakh people is involved here.
"We demand that the government undertake an initiative to have 12 months work at the sugar mills. Newspaper is made from sugarcane husk, ethanol is made from sugarcane molasses – from which chocolate can be made. Organic manure can be produced from leftover silt. Plans to make the sugar mills profitable must be obtained, like in the case of Keru and Company. We want a reopening of the closed sugar mills. These mills need to be modernised keeping them in operation. I request the government not to close the mills on the pretext of loss," he added.
Kajal Basu, general secretary of Faridpur Sugar Mill Workers Union, complained that no officer, employee or worker had been paid for five months. Also, the retirement gratuity is closed.
At that time, Hiran, Keya, Russell and Likhan, children of the family of Faridpur Sugar Mill workers, also addressed the human chain.
They said all should come forward to save the sugar mills and sugarcane farmers. They hope that the prime minister and food minister will protect the country's heavy industry by modernising the sugar mills. Further, they hope the sugar mills will be made profitable through modernisation.
Previously, on 1 December, 2020, the Ministry of Industries issued an order to reduce the losses at sugar mills controlled by the Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation (BSFIC).
As per the order, production will continue at nine out of the 15 BSFIC sugar mills in the current fiscal year 2020-2021. Sugarcane produced in the remaining six sugar mills would be threshed at the nearest sugar mill. The closed sugar mills include: Pabna Sugar Mill, Kushtia Sugar Mill, Panchagarh Sugar Mill, Shampur Sugar Mill, Rangpur Sugar Mill, and Setabganj Sugar Mill.