SUGAR MILLS in Maharashtra have been able to clear around 90 per cent of their dues to farmers. With just 10 mills in operation, the state’s cane arrears as of April 15 were Rs 1,254.08 crore as against Rs 4,324.4 crore last year. A total of 74 out of 143 mills have managed to make 100 per cent payment to their farmers.
The present cane crushing season, which was hit by droughts in some parts and floods in the cane belt of western Maharashtra, was to be less than 100 days. To date, mills have crushed 535.02 lakh tonne producing around 60 lakh tonnes of sugar. A majority of the 10 mills functional are located in the western Maharashtra districts of Satara, Sangli and Pune.
Of the Rs 12,359.34 crore payable to farmers as per the government declared fair and remunerative price (FRP) of Rs 2750 per tonne (at 10 per cent average recovery), mills to date have paid Rs 11,310.97 crores, which is 90 per cent of the dues. At present, mills have unpaid arrears of Rs 1,254.08 core or 10 per cent of the total payable FRP. Right at the start of the season, mills had made an agreement with growers to pay FRP in instalments. Nationwide, around 247 lakh tonnes of sugar has been manufactured.
As many as 30 mills have unpaid dues between 80 per cent and 99 per cent while 16 have arrears between 60 per cent and 79 per cent of their payable FRP. Just 16 mills have unpaid dues lower than 60 per cent. The sugar commissioner has not issued orders against any mill for non-payment of dues.
Sugar sales have hit the brakes as the lockdown has stopped the functioning of almost all industries like sweet marts and bakeries, which use the sweetener as raw material.
Mukesh Kuvadiya, honorary secretary of Bombay Sugar Merchants Association, said 60 per cent sugar sales were cornered by industries while household consumption contributed to 40 per cent sales.
“We have not faced any problem about the movement of trucks but transportation charges have increased a bit,” he said.
Kuvadiya said after April 20, when relaxations will come into force for industries, the sales might pick up.
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