Former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Friday attacked the Union government claiming that the Rs 6,000 crore it had announced for the crisis-hit sugar industry was “farcical”.
“Sugar farmers won’t even get a single penny from this. The Centre has imposed stringent riders for availing the package, which must be met before September 30. That does not seem possible,” Chavan said.
Speaking during a discussion on farm crisis in Maharashtra in the Legislative Assembly, Chavan said that the sugar industry was going through an unprecedented crisis as sugarcane prices mount and sugar prices drop on surplus production.
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“The sugar farmer won’t benefit at all unless the loans extended the sugar factories are converted into grants,” Chavan said. Of the Rs 6,000 crore, the Maharashtra sugar industry has been earmarked a financial support of Rs 1,850 crore.
The former chief minister said that temporary measures won’t bring relief to farmers, echoing his party’s line that loan waiver was the solution to farm crisis in Maharashtra.
Later, NCP’s group leader Jayant Patil, who spoke after Chavan, also fired barbs at the Bharatiya Janata Party over the loan waiver demand.
In what appeared to be a veiled dig at the Nationalist Congress Party, Chavan said that it was not appropriate to discourage and weaken the entire cooperative sector, which is the backbone of Maharashtra’s economy, just because some unethical practices have come to light. “Act against the wrongdoers, but do not target the sector,” he said.
Chavan further said the state government can afford to borrow more as its debt to gross domestic product ratio was well within the norms stipulated by the Finance Commission.
Chavan also blamed both the Centre and the state government for the sugar industry crisis, claiming that things had not gone out of hand had they stepped in to control the damage in time.
Asking the state to desist from action against sugar factories unable to pay fair and remunerative prices (FRP) to cane farmers on account of the “unprecedented” crisis, Chavan further suggested that both government must now evolve a revenue sharing model between sugar factories and farmers.