Maharashtra’s sugar commissionerate issued revenue and recovery certificate (RRC) orders against three sugar mills in the state on Wednesday after their failure to make fair and remunerative price (FRP) payments to farmers for the 2015-16 sugar season despite being given repeated extensions. The government has also issued showcause notices to some 80 mills in the state and has given them time until May 25, failing which top officials have warned of big action on the same day. Maharashtra’s crushing season ended on May 10 this year.
In the last fortnight, the commissionerate had cancelled the crushing licences of three mills located in the Parbhanai, Yavatmal and Bhor regions of Maharashtra; after these mills still failed to make the payments, orders were issued for attachment of on Wednesday. This has been a year when the government has continued to maintain pressure on millers for making FRP payments to farmers. Till date, RRC orders have been issued to some 24 mills in the state. Maharashtra sugar commissioner Vipin Sharma has warned that if the millers do not make payments on time, strict action would be taken against them on May 25. The mills have been given enough time to make farmer payments, he said.
According to the latest estimates, the arrear position has come down from R2,672 crore in the last fortnight to R1,800 crore as on date, he said, adding that Maharashtra is leading in terms of recovery of FRP compared with other states. Around R900 crore has been collected in the last fortnight itself, he said. Sharma said that the three factories have been issued RRCs because of their failure to make the 80% FRP payments for the season. Their licences were cancelled and they were given time until now; after their failure to make payments, RRC orders have been issued, he said. This season, of 177 factories, around 16 factories have made FRP payments that are 100% or more. Eighty factories have made payments in the 90-99% region and 70 factories have made payments in the 80-90% range, he said. Therefore the commissionerate has issued show-cause notices to them and has asked them to make payments before May 25.
Last fortnight, revenue and recovery certificate (RRC) orders were issued to four mills, crushing licences of two mills were cancelled, two licences were suspended for the season. Hearings were held for some 26 mills, of which 10 mills made payments, while two mills made marginal payments and so were given more time. In the first week of May, RRC orders have were issued against six mills, crushing licenses of six mills have been cancelled and crushing licences of another eight mills have been suspended. Of the eight mills, four mills have made payments.
Season ends on a sweet note in Uttar Pradesh
The sugarcane crushing season that is nearing its end in Uttar Pradesh has in many ways been unprecedented this year. For a change, it’s no more a summer of discontent. All the stakeholders are happy; the 40,000-odd farmers in the state are happy as their cane due payments are better this year, and sugar millers are happy as sugar prices have gone up from R2,578 per quintal in October to R3,239 per quintal in March, thereby helping them in not only clearing cane dues but also improving their bottomlines. And the Uttar Pradesh government is happy too. With an election year looming, the state machinery is all geared up to ensure that the farmer fraternity is kept in good humour.
Despite drought and water crisis, which forced the country’s largest sugar-producing state, Maharashtra, to register a substantial dip in sugar production, Uttar Pradesh has been able to come within kissing distance of its last year’s production of 70.42 lakh tonnes at 68 lakh tonnes. And what is more heartening is the fact that UP’s sugar recovery has touched an all-time high of 10.61% as against 9.54% last year.
“It is really comforting to see UP increasing its acreage under the CO-0238 variety, which has given a much higher yield and highest ever sugar recovery. This has gone a long way in helping sugar factories clear their cane dues, thereby making our farmers happy,” said UP cane commissioner Vipin Kumar Dwivedi.
Indeed, the cane due payments have shown a very healthy trend. While sugar mills in the state had been able to clear merely 60% of their cane dues by May 15 last year, this year they have already cleared nearly 79% of the dues. “Last year, mills owed a whopping R6,910 crore to the farmers at this time. This year, the figure is less than half of that at R3,154 crore. We are trying our best to get the remaining dues cleared at the earliest,” said Dwivedi. In fact, the government has already started cracking the whip on errant mills which have not been clearing cane dues. Almost 25 FIRs have been filed against 22 sugar mills under the Essential Commodity Act. These include 13 units of Bajaj Sugar, four of Rana Sugar, 2 of Mawana Sugars, and one each of Shamli, Simbhaoli and Modi Sugars.
Talking to FE, an official of the sugarcane department said that of the total 117 sugar mills in the state, including both private as well as UP Sugar Cooperative Federation mills, 116 have already closed down for the season and only one is running on the leftover cane. “This factory is also expected to close by the end of this week,” he said.