In the last 10 days, the Maharashtra Sugar Commissionerate has managed to recover some Rs 200 crore in Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) arrears from sugar mills that were summoned for hearings. Hearings were in progress in Pune at the State Sugar Commissionerate against 36 odd mills for maintaining more than 30% gap in FRP payments.
Sugar commissioner Vipin Sharma said that Rs 200 crore has been recovered from hearings conducted in the last 10 days and the most of the mills had agreed to pay up the gap in FRP payments to farmers. Follow-ups of these cases will be maintained from next week and this time mills with a 20-30% gap in FRP payments will be called for hearings, he told FE. According to the Commissioner the total arrears now amount to some Rs 3,800 crore and the latest figures are yet to be made available.
Only a single mill in the Maharashtra is now crushing cane and the remaining 177 mills in the state have completed crushing operations, he said.
Meanwhile, the government has decided to push micro-irrigation. Henceforth new crushing licences will not be issued unless sugar mills opt for micro-irrigation. The State Sugar Commissionerate has issued directives to this effect. In Maharashtra, sugarcane is cultivated on 9.37 lakh hectares.
Meanwhile, farmer organisations have issued a warning to the state government to take a decision on the FRP payments by June 20 following which they have threatened to stage agitations outside the office of the Sugar Commissioner from June 22.
Raju Shetty, president, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana sought answers from the government on the R2000 crore loan package and said that although the season is almost ending no decision has been taken on the FRP
The Sharad Joshi-led Shetkari Sanghatana has also met Sugar Commissioner seeking action against 15 sugar mills owned by prominent politicians.
The Sanghatana has alleged that these mills have arrears to the tune of R800 crore and 10 factories have paid less than 50% FRP. The Sanghatana submitted a list of the arrears of these mills which are owned by leaders from BJP , Congress and NCP.
The Sanghatana has threatened to approach the court unless these payments are cleared by June 15.