Maharashtra’s sugar season officially ended on a stormy note on Monday, with the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), a farmers’ association, threatening to stage demonstrations outside district collectors’ offices in the cane-producing regions. They alleged that authorities had failed to take action against errant sugar mills that did not clear farmers’ fair and remunerative price ( FRP) dues.
The farmer body has already threatened to take the legal course and serve notices to district collectors for their alleged failure to implement orders on issuing Revenue Recovery Certificate (RRC).
Maharashtra Sugar Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad has, so far, slapped RRC notices on 52 sugar mills. Another eight RRCs would be issued on Monday, he said.
The state’s cane dues now amount to Rs 3,595 crore, with the mills finally shutting down crushing operations on Monday. Farmer leader Raju Shetti, who met Gaikwad on Monday, said SSS would aggressively follow up the recovery of cane dues.
Besides holding protests, the Sanghatana will file contempt petition against the collectors for their failure to implement the RRC orders, Shetti said. These collectors have so far cited election code of conduct as the reason for not taking action, he said, adding the Sanghatana will give them another eight days to implement the orders. “If this is not done in the next eight days, we will approach the Bombay High Court, where our petition on FRP dues is already pending, and seek justice,” Shetti said.
Yogesh Pande, spokesperson of SSS, said according to Section 3 of Sugar Cane Control Act, 1966, payment dues of sugar cane farmers have to be disbursed within 14 days after delivery of sugar cane to millers. The sugar commissioner of Maharashtra has issued RRC certificates for 2017-18 and 2018-19, which were duly delivered to the offices of respective district collectors for further action for recovery, Pande said.