Sugar commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad Monday signed orders to appoint government auditors to calculate interest payable to sugarcane growers by the 20 mills in Marathwada for delayed payment. The development follows a failure of the mills to comply with his September 25, 2019, order to submit calculations for delayed payment during the 2014-15 crushing season.
Earlier, Shiv Sena leader Pralhad Ingole had moved Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court to press for payment of 15 per cent interest on delayed payment. As per the Sugarcane Control Order, 1965, mills that fail to clear the payment of the government declared Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) within 14 days of sale of cane are expected to pay 15 per cent interest. The statute, however, has seldom been invoked.
After Ingole moved the HC, the then sugar commissioner, Dr Bipin Sharma, had conducted multiple hearings on the matter which subsequently led to the clearance of the unpaid FRP, but the interest component was not touched. Ingole later again moved the High Court to press for payment of interest.
The High Court had asked the sugar commissioner to hear the case and take a decision on the payment of interest. In his order, Gaikwad upheld Ingole’s plea and had ordered mills to calculate the interest component and pay the same within 60 days of the order.
After 20 mills in the state had made representation with the state government to stay the order for payment of interest, Ingole moved both the High Court and the state government to ensure his side was heard while deciding the matter. Interestingly, the state government has not taken any decision about payment of interest.
With mills failing to submit their calculation of interest or make any efforts to pay the same, Gaikwad in the new order has appointed auditors to do the same. Individual government auditors will now calculate and submit the data to the office of the sugar commissioner.
Gaikwad had earlier indicated that he will issue orders for attachment of properties of mills as revenue receipts in case mills fail to pay the interest.
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