The Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) arrears of Maharashtra’s sugar mills to farmers have come down to 12% at the end of the sugar season of 2018-19. The cane payment arrears now stand at Rs 2,942 crore.
The State Sugar Commissioner, however, has slapped Revenue and Recovery Certificate (RRC) notices on 68 mills for their failure to pay FRP to farmers. These mills owe `1,320 crore to farmers.
Maharashtra Sugar Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad had earlier issued notices to 54 mills, and another 14 mills have been added to the list. The Commissioner’s office warned the mills that if they fail to respond to the notices, the government would seize their properties and sugar stocks to recover dues and pay them to farmers. The Cane Control Order, 1996 stipulates payment of FRP within 14 days of start of crushing failing which an interest of 15% per annum is charged on the amount due to the farmers.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti, who met Gaikwad last week, stated that the farmer body shall aggressively follow up on the recovery of cane dues. The Sanghatana shall hold demonstrations outside offices of district collectors and also file contempt petition against the collectors for their failure to implement the RRC orders, he said.
These collectors have so far cited election code of conduct as the reason for not taking action and therefore the Sanghatana will be issuing notices to the respective district collectors. The Sanghatana shall give them another 8 days to implement the RRC orders. If this is not done in the next 8 days we shall approach the Bombay High Court where our petition on FRP dues is already pending and seek justice on the grounds that the district collectors have failed in their duty, Shetti said.
In a report to the Chief Director, Sugar, the State Sugar Commissionerate has pointed out that 952. 20 lakh tonne of cane has been crushed this season to produce 107.19 lakh tonne of sugar. Around 195 sugar mills participated in crushing this season.
The total payable FRP this season was around `22,172. 63 crore, of which `19,567.02 crore has been paid by millers to farmers towards cane payments. This means around 88% of the FRP payments are complete. Another `2,942 crore (12%) of the FRP dues now remain. Around 144 factories owe these arrears to farmers. As many as 51 factories have made 100% payments, 85 factories have made 80-99% payments, 36 factories have made 60-79% payments and 23 factories have made zero to 60% FRP payments.The FRP dues of the previous season are around `2,49.53 crore.
Meanwhile, field reports from the state suggest that cane planting in most of the regions in Maharashtra for harvesting in next 2019-20 season is significantly lower than the sugarcane harvested in the current season. Sanjay Khatal, MD, Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation (MSCSFF) stated that the planting could be 40% lower in the wake of the drought in the state.
No new plantation has taken place and the rattoon crop is being diverted for fodder, he said.