However, farmers’ body Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana alleges it could be more than Rs 800 crore
Sugar millers in Maharashtra still owe farmers around Rs 589.59 crore in fair and remunerative price (FRP) payments for the season of 2018-19 which translate to 2% of the total dues for the season. Farmers’ body Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, however, alleges that the FRP payment dues could be more than Rs 800 crore.
According to the latest crushing report of the Maharashtra Sugar Commissionerate, around 195 factories took part in crushing during the season and 952.11 tonne of cane was crushed to produce a record 107 lakh tonne of sugar. Of the 195 factories, 129 mills cleared payments but 66 mills still had dues to pay at the end of the season.
The total FRP dues for the season amounted to Rs 23,207.28 crore of which millers cleared dues worth Rs 22,645.26 crore till August 15. The remaining dues now amount to Rs 589.59 crore. According to the report, the 129 factories have cleared 100% FRP payments, 49 factories have cleared 80-99% payments, 13 factories have cleared 60-79% payments, and four factories have made less than 49% payments.
Sugar commissioner Shekar Gaikwad had issued revenue recovery code (RRC) orders to 76 mills which had failed to pay basic FRP to farmers. The pending dues from these 76 mills amount to Rs 405.28 crore at district collector level and an additional Rs 184.31 crore at the commissionerate level.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana chief Raju Shetti, however, alleged that the dues from the factories were more than Rs 800 crore and FRP payments had not reached the farmers. “Factories claim that they have made FRP payments and on paper, everything seems clear but when we speak to farmers, we realise that they are yet to be paid,” he said. Shetti asked for an audit report and said that unless the payments reached the last farmer, it cannot be said that FRP payments had been cleared.
Shekhar Gaikwad said Shetti might be referring to contractual payments and there could be some differences there. “The dues for the last season were less than 2% and next season onwards, we intend to issue notices to factories from the start of the season itself so that dues are cleared and we do not have to wait till the end of the season.”
According to the cane control order, factories have to pay up FRP within 14 days of commencing crushing. He said that a review of the crop would be given after a few days since factories are still collecting data. “Several factories say their cane could be 5-10% less but figures are yet to be compiled.”