Facing its worst ever sugar crisis, Maharashtra has petitioned the Centre to build a buffer stock of at least 50 lakh metric tonne of sugar on priority. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Thursday discussed the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in Mumbai for a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) function. “I have sought the PM’s time for a detailed discussion in this regard,” Fadnavis said. The sugar industry, which forms the backbone of Maharashtra’s rural economy, is bleeding with sugar prices falling considerably.
Unable to meet input costs, at least 12 private mill operators have shut operations in the midst of the crushing season, raising fears of that nearly 100 lakh tonne sugarcane would remain uncrushed in Maharashtra. The mills have also run up arrears of Rs 2,500 crore to farmers. Most mills have not been able to meet fair and remunerative prices (FRP) to cane farmers.
The government is banking on the Centre for help. Official sources said the buffer stock would significantly ease the problem. Though a demand has been raised for revision of the FRP, sources said the government would not press for the ‘unpopular’ measure on its own. A formal meeting with the PM is expected next week.
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Congress stages protest
Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam led a delegation that demonstrated with black flags against Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Mumbai visit. Nirupam said his party was protesting against the “shameful” remarks made by Union minister Giriraj Singh against Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Maharashtra government’s decision to cut food subsidy for 1.77 crore above poverty line people, and the Centre’s move to shift the international financial centre out of Mumbai. The protesters, including Nirupam, were detained by the police.