The scheme, announced by the Centre in February, allows the mills to avail of loans at 7-10 per cent interest rate for a year. It is meant to help sugar mills clear their dues to cane growers, which have run into thousands of crores.
The underlying objective seems to be to force mills to sell more sugar in order to generate extra cash flows to liquidate cane arrears, which, according to the Centre, have reached a level of Rs 20,159 crore as on February 22.
In Maharashtra, offices of around 10 sugar mills were burnt by angry farmers. As farmers count mounting dues, mills point to pending stocks and falling prices. With elections near, The Sunday Express goes to farmers and mills to find out what ails India's sugar heartland.
The move comes three weeks after Union Minister Satya Pal Singh wrote to UP Sugarcane Development Minister Suresh Rana about Umesh Kumar, owner of Modi Industries Ltd. which runs the Malakpur sugar mill in Baghpat and Modinagar sugar mill in Ghaziabad.
The cane crushing season in the state had started on October 20, but only 65 mills had started their operations. Mills in Western Maharashtra had ceased their operations after members of the Sanghatana and other farmer bodies resorted to violent protests.