Sugar commissioner Dr Vipin Sharma continued his action against errant sugar mills in the state and millers were exploring legal options and contemplating to move court. On Tuesday, Sharma suspended crushing licences of mills managed by two senior Congress leaders in Ahmednagar district — Leader of Opposition Radhakrushna Vikhe Patil and former revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat.
Non-payment of fair and remunerative price (FRP) to cane growers for last season had snowballed into a major issue in the state at the start of the crushing season. On Monday, Sharma had suspended crushing licences of 12 mills for failure to clear FRP for the last crushing season and 51 mills were issued notices on December 22. Sharma’s action follows mills not clearing FRP. The total quantum of uncleared FRP for the last season, as of December 31, is around Rs 200 crore. Suspension of crushing licence leads to imposition of fines to the tune of Rs 500 per tonne of cane crushed. The mills are supposed to deposit the amount with the government treasury. In case mills fail to comply with directions they would be debarred from applying or obtaining crushing licence in the subsequent year.
Meanwhile, millers said they will explore legal options against the sugar commissioner’s orders. On Tuesday, officials from the Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation tried to meet Cooperative Minister Chandrakant Patil to discuss the matter. Shivajirao Nagavade Patil, president of the federation, said millers have decided to contest the suspension of licence either by moving court or appealing before the cooperation minister.
“Suspension of licence is just an act of bravado and will not do anything for farmers in reality. It would have been more prudent if the commissioner had taken action after sugar production was completed,” he said.
Patil said the millers will try to meet the minister again on Wednesday to try to come up with a solution. As of Tuesday, 169 mills are in operation in the state, which includes 94 cooperative mills and 75 private mills. The total cane crushed this year is 392.07 lakh tonnes.