With seven sugar mills in Nanded region of Maharashtra approaching the high court on the issue of delay in fair and remunerative price (FRP) payments to farmers, the state government has decided to wait for the directives of the court before taking any decision on its own.
At a hearing called on Thursday against the seven factories in Pune on the issue following a petition by Prasad Ingole of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, the Maharashtra Sugar Commissionerate decided to postpone the hearing to February 18. This has been done in anticipation of the decision that may be taken by the high court, sugar commissioner Vipin Sharma said.
According to the commissioner, all the seven mills have approached the high court. “The cases are being heard before a bench and therefore we will wait till the court decides the matter,” he said.
These seven mills owe farmers some Rs 25 crore and if the high court decides in their favour, this amount may have to be given up, Sharma explained.
At the hearing called by the sugar commissioner in Pune last month as per the directions of the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court, 17 factories had said that they have made up 100% FRP payments to farmers. Of the 24 factories in Nanded region that were given time to pay their dues, around 17 factories have made full FRP payments and seven factories have made part payments.
Ingole, the petitioner who has also approached the high court for the delay in the decision, accused the commissionerate of going soft on some factories such as former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan’s mill that still owes dues worth Rs 18 crore for the last season while action was taken against smaller factories.
Meanwhile, the FRP arrear position of factories in the state for the 2014-15 season has come down to Rs 285 crore. Total FRP arrears across the country now amount to Rs 2,700 crore of which Maharashtra’s share is just Rs 385 crore.
Of the 37 factories that still owe arrears, 26 factories owe Rs 18 crore in pending FRP payments and 11 factories that did not crush this season owe farmers some Rs 104 crore, senior officials said.
Sharma said that crushing licences of four factories will be reinstated this week since they have cleared the entire dues for the season of 2014-15. The government had suspended licences of 12 sugar mills over non-payment of FRP dues to farmers for the 2014-15 season.
For the 2015-16 season, factories have paid up season Rs 4,274 crore as FRP payments as against Rs 5,655 crore due against them as per the 80:20 FRP formula decided by the chief minister, officials said. This leaves some Rs 1,381 crore as pending dues for the current season, officials said.