At least 32 sugar factories in Maharashtra are likely to lose their crushing licences for the ongoing season with show-cause notices issued to them by the state sugar commissionerate for their failure to make 80% fair and remunerative price (FRP) payments to farmers for the 2015-16 season.
According to Maharashtra sugar commissioner Vipin Sharma, these factories will be summoned to the commissionerate on April 29 to seek clarifications on why payments have not been made to farmers yet. Together these factories owe farmers around R800-900 crore in FRP payments. “The season is almost ending. The prices are high and the factories now have enough stocks on hand. There is no reason why these mills do not sell sugar and pay the farmers,” he said.
If the factories do not start making payments, their crushing licences for this season will be cancelled, Sharma said. This effectively means that the cane crushing during the season by these factories will be illegal and they will may end up paying hefty fines for the cane crushed so far.
Mills have been directed by the state cooperation minister to also begin making remaining 20% payments to farmers. The demand for the second installment usually starts May onwards. However, the government has decided that millers need to pay the remaining arrears soon in the wake of rising sugar prices.
The commissionerate had earlier issued Revenue and Recovery Certificate (RRC) notices to some 24 factories for their failure to make FRP payments for the 2014-15 season. Of these 24 factories, there is a court stay on 6 factories and crushing licences of two factories have been cancelled, Sharma had stated earlier.
At present, only 7 factories are crushing cane in the state while the remaining mills have completed their operations. Around 166 mills had closed crushing operations over the last week.