Farmer leader and Hatkhanagale MP Raju Shetti has alleged that 10-15 sugar mills in the state have started their crushing operations without clearing their dues to farmers. Shetti, whose intervention on Monday led to the suspension of a private sugar mill in Osmanabad, said he will be following with the sugar commissioner to ensure payment to farmers.
Sugar mills are not issued crushing licences until they pay 100 per cent of the fair and remunerative price (FRP) to the growers. Sugar commissioner keeps a periodical check about the payment of cane dues to farmers. The Sugarcane Control Order, 1966, specifies payment of 15 per cent interest by mills who fail to pay the grower on time. However, such payment has rarely been done in Maharashtra.
Shetti said this year, around 10-15 mills, mostly from Marathwada, have failed to clear their dues to growers and yet been issued crushing licences. Such mills, the MP said, had paid growers well above the FRP during the start of the season, but later on failed to pay even the FRP.
“Sugar prices, which were at Rs 36 per kg at the start of the last season, had fallen to Rs 24 per kg since January. Thus, mills that were paying more to attract growers suddenly found themselves cash-strapped and could not clear their FRP,” he said.
Farmers who had sold their cane post January were the ones whose dues were not cleared by the mills, the MP said.
While submitting the final payment figures, mills had shown the total payment done as against the total cane crushed. “By virtue of the above FRP payment done by them at the start of the season, the mills could claim they have cleared their cane payment and thus were granted crushing license,” he said.
The farmers’ body is now collecting individual complains against mills who have failed to clear their dues.
Verbal duel with MLA
On Monday, while discussing the issue of non-payment of FRP by the private mills in Osmanabad, Shetti had a verbal duel with the Shiv Sena MLA Tanaji Sawant.