Cooperation minister Chandrakant Patil has indicated that action would be initiated against sugar mills from next week for failing to clear cane dues for the last crushing season. Patil said that the sugar commissioner’s office would be issuing notices to erring mills after the one-month moratorium came to an end. “At least 97 per cent of cane dues have been cleared, but few mills are yet to clear theirs. As of November end, cane dues in the state stand close to Rs 400 crore,” he said.
Mills which had ran into cane arrears — failed to pay the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) to farmers — were asked to submit an affidavit before issuance of crushing license for the present season. The affidavit had made it compulsory for the mills to clear their outstanding payment within a month of starting crushing operation. Crushing was to be suspended if they failed to. With the deadline coming up next week, Patil said issuing notices for hearings and other necessary action would be undertaken.
Of the 178 mills which had gone for crushing last season, only 98 have managed to pay 100 per cent FRP to farmers. The sugar commissioner had earlier issued orders to auction sugar stock of 10 mills for their failure to clear cane dues. It is estimated that at least 70 mills, both cooperative and private, are yet to clear their dues and notices would be issued against them. After that, the sugar commissioner would conduct hearings and a final decision would be taken on the fate of the mills.
Meanwhile, crushing operations have started in full swing and 162 mills — 90 cooperative and 72 private mills — are functional as of Thursday. Last year at the same time, 158 mills — 95 cooperative and 63 private mills — had started crushing.
Mills have crushed 138.27 lakh metric tonnes of cane and 133.24 lakh metric tonnes of sugar has been produced. However, a final decision on the payment of FRP is yet to be taken.