Maha sugar commissioner fines 18 mills for starting crushing without licence

Although there is no data yet which reveals how many farmers have switched to other mills because of the colour coded system, Gaikwad said that the positive impact can be measured by the fact that there has been no morcha by farmer groups on cane payments this season.

If a mill fails to clear its dues, the sugar commissioner refuses to issue a license for the next season. Mills that start operations without a license are liable to be fined Rs 500 per tonne of cane crushed.
If a mill fails to clear its dues, the sugar commissioner refuses to issue a license for the next season. Mills that start operations without a license are liable to be fined Rs 500 per tonne of cane crushed.

Eighteen sugar mills in Maharashtra have been fined by the State Sugar Commissioner’s office for starting crushing operations for the season of 2021-22 without the requisite crushing license. These mills will have to pay up fines amounting to Rs 61 crore, Shekhar Gaikwad, Maharashtra Sugar Commissioner said.

The office of the sugar commissioner issues licenses for mills, without which they are not allowed to start operations. Before issuing the license, the sugar commissioner’s office checks details such as cane availability, clearance of past dues and payment of government dues by the mill concerned. If a mill fails to clear its dues, the sugar commissioner refuses to issue a license for the next season. Mills that start operations without a license are liable to be fined Rs 500 per tonne of cane crushed.

This season onwards, the Commissioner’s office has also introduced a colour coded system on sugar mills based on their payment history. The step has been taken to provide a ready guide for sugarcane farmers to decide where to sell their sugarcane, he said. Although there is no data yet which reveals how many farmers have switched to other mills because of the colour coded system, Gaikwad said that the positive impact can be measured by the fact that there has been no morcha by farmer groups on cane payments this season.

While mills that have paid their cane dues in time have been marked in green, mills tagged red have made less than 59.99% payments of the total FRP to farmers and mills tagged yellow have made cane payments in the range of 80% to 99.99% of the total FRP to farmers. The Commissioner said that the colour coded list shall be updated thrice during the season so that farmers remain informed about the payment history of mills well in advance.

Maharashtra mills started the 2021-22 sugarcane crushing season on October 15, 2021, and till today 189 sugar mills have crushed 625.38 tonnes of cane to produce 620.82 lakh quintals of sugar. As per estimates both by the industry and the sugar commissioner’s office, the cane availability of the state is 1,096 lakh tonnes and sugar production has been pegged at 112 lakh tonnes. Around 15 lakh tonnes of sugar are expected to be diverted for the production of ethanol which has been targeted at 120 crore litres. The area under sugarcane cultivation has increased this season to 12.5 lakh hectares from 11.42 lakh hectares in 2020-21.

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