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29 sugar mills to be auctioned: Co-op minister

Twenty-nine sugar mills in the state,that have been shut for the last many years will be auctioned off,said State Cooperatives Minister Harshavardhan Patil on Tuesday.

Written by Express News Service | Pune |
January 7, 2009 12:30:37 am

Twenty-nine sugar mills in the state,that have been shut for the last many years will be auctioned off,said State Cooperatives Minister Harshavardhan Patil on Tuesday.

He said that the government had made several efforts to revive these mills in the past,following which a decision was taken on Tuesday morning to auction these mills. “We have asked them to start the legal processes. The tenders will be put up soon,” Patil said,speaking to media persons,on the sidelines of the workshop on the increasing sugar production in the state.

Patil said that they still have to evaluate the present value of the mills. He said that it was different if mills were unable to operate because of non-availability of a poor season and non-availability of sugarcane.

“However,these mills have sugarcane and funds available with them,” he said.

This season,Patil said,22 different sugar mills had run into trouble. Some mills had remained close despite taking pre-season loans from the banks. “We have issued a show cause notice to these mills,” he said. Out of these,16 mills had closed after taking pre-season loans. Now,the government has tightened the rules and loans will be given only after sugar mills had proved that they had 50 per cent of the mill capacity available with them. “We have given them a month’s time to pay the farmers SMP. They still owe the farmers close to Rs 15 crore,” he said.

Earlier,the Agriculture Commissioner said that the department was keen on promoting a cluster approach amongst farmers. Over the years,the acreage had increased,but production levels had plummeted in the state “If farmers work in clusters,then they will learn from one another,” Deshmukh said.

He also said that the state will identify various service providers who will advice farmers on technological upgradation. At the workshop,Balasaheb Thorat,State Agriculture Minister,announced a scheme where sugar mills would be awarded Rs 25 lakh,Rs 15 lakh and Rs 10 lakh if they show consistent performance over three years.

Help farmers to diversify to other fields: Agri secy tells sugar factories
At a daylong workshop to discuss various techniques to improve sugar production in the state,principal secretary of Agriculture Nana Patil said on Tuesday that sugar mills must help farmers in diversifying into other areas of agriculture. “Some of them can grow flowers or vegetables. Short-term courses can be conducted. They need not leave sugarcane production,but they can augment income,which will do them a lot of good,” he said.

Patil also adviced sugar mills to stock up fertilisers. “At present the government has surplus amount of fertilisers,but farmers had not placed orders as they were expecting the prices to fall further. Factories should stock some fertilisers in these two months so that they would be able to help farmers,during May when the government stock will get over and farmers face shortage,” he said

Patil also called on the sugar factories to take a look at all areas of sugar production. “In the last few years,the soil health had deteriorated,salinity had increased,and soil had lost its nutrients. These issues need to be tackled through a community-based approach,”he said.

He said the state must strive to build a port where ships carrying fertilisers could dock. The Bombay port is unsuitable because the harbour does not have the requisite depth for ships to dock. The terminal at JNPT has been shut for 7-8 years. The ships now dock at the Khandla port in Gujarat. Over the years,the state has fallen from the top position in sugar production to the fourth place,he added.

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