Maha halts cane to other states

Written by Sanjay Jog | Mumbai, Aug 26 | Updated: Aug 27 2008, 06:12am hrs
The Maharashtra government, in a bid to avoid stealing of sugarcane during the ensuing crushing season due to scarcity, has banned export to other states. However, mills have been allowed to import from other cane-surplus states to meet their needs. These decisions were taken at a high-level meeting chaired by state chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh in Mumnai on Tuesday. As reported by FE, there will be sharp reduction in availability of sugarcane during the crushing season of 2008-09, to a level of 450 lakh tonne - 500 lakh tonne compared to 761 lakh tonne crushed in 2007-08. This will also result in the fall in the sugar to 52lakh tonne- 57 lakh tonnes against 90.95 lakh tonne in 2007-08. As against 145 sugar cooperatives, only 135 mills are expected to participate in the ensuing crushing season.

Moreover, the state government and officials of the Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories in Maharashtra told reporters that the crushing season would be from October 15 - November 1, instead of commening on October 1, due to scarcity of cane. The postponement was also necessitated to avoid low sugar recovery.

State government official said that it would be mandatory for sugar mills to make their first advances equivalent to the statutory minimum price (SMP). The Centre, for the ensuing crushing season, has fixed the SMP at Rs 911.80 per tonne for a recovery 9% and for every 1% increase in recovery there will be an addition of Rs 90.

Federation chairman Balasaheb Patil and managing director Prakash Naiknavare said that the cooperatives would need a pre-seasonal loan of Rs 250 crore. The federation has appealed to the state government to provide the necessary guarantees by the end of August, so that the cooperatives will be able to avail the pre-seasonal loans in time. Moreover, Naiknavare said that there would be a substantial fall in the sugar availabile for export after the completion of ensuing crushing season. In Maharashtra, around 10 lakh tonne (five lakh tonne each of raw and white) will be available for export, due to low production and the discontinuation of the export subsidy.

On co-generation projects, Naiknavare said that 55 mills have begun implementating measures to add around 1,000 MW power in next three years based on the per megawatt cost of Rs 4.50 crore. At present, about 22 mills generate 126 MW and sell power at Rs 3.05 per unit. The federation will soon approach the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission with a plea to revise tariff for existing mills.