A SHARP dip in the sugar production in Pune and adjoining areas has led to a fall in the earning of Pune Division of the Indian Railways too, as the freight earning from sugar transport has fallen by 25 per cent over the last year. Due to the drought situation last year, sugar production in the state had come down to half of its average annual production — from 86 lakh tons in 2015-16 to 41 lakh tons in 2016-17.
Railways is considered to be the preferred mode of transport for sugar consignments. Sugar is taken from Pune and adjoining districts to northern, north-eastern states and to southern ports, from where it is exported. Information provided by the officials shows that the Pune Division earned Rs 1,113.48 crore in 2016-17, which is five per cent less than the last financial year, when it had earned Rs 1,169.35
The division recorded a five per cent increase in the revenue earned from passenger fare, 10 per cent increase in the money earned from penalties but a sharp decline was witnessed in the freight earning. This year, a total of 795.36 lakh passengers travelled in trains operated by the Pune Division, paying a total of Rs 800 crore in fares.
Similarly, 2.53 lakh passengers travelled with invalid tickets or did not pay for luggage, shelling out Rs 12.82 crore in penalty. Revenues of railway divisions in western and central Maharashtra are often linked to agriculture productions, especially sugarcane harvest. In 2014-15, when the state had recorded a bumper harvest, with a whopping 105 lakh tons production of sugar, the Pune Division had recorded a 43 per cent hike in freight earnings.