Sugar commissioner promises action against defaulter mills
Following a protest march by thousands of sugarcane farmers here Monday, the Maharashtra Sugar Commissioner promised action against the sugar mills which have not cleared farmers' dues. Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader and Lok Sabha MP Raju Shetti, who led the march, said late Monday night that he was calling off the agitation, but if farmers did not get their dues, he would launch an indefinite hunger strike.
Sugarcane farmers are demanding fair and remunerative price (FRP) and clearance of their dues by sugar mills. In a written assurance given to Shetti, Sugar Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad stated that there are 174 sugar mills which have not paid cane cultivators dues of Rs 5,319 crore.
"To expedite the clearing of the dues, we recently completed the hearing process of 39 sugar factories and by Tuesday, district-wise orders will be issued to initiate action against these millers by issuance of Revenue Recovery Certificates (RCC) under the provisions of the Sugar Act (price regulation)," he stated. Similar RCCs will be issued to remaining sugar mills which have defaulted on payments, and orders will be issued to the respective district collectors to initiate recovery measures and carry out seizure of sugar immediately, he said.
In another letter addressed to Shetti, commissioner Gaikwad assured that if the mills against whom RCCs have been issued fail to clear pending FRP of cane cultivators, penal action will be initiated after seven days. Earlier, the protest march started at Alka Chowk and ended at the Sugar Commissioner's office. Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav also took part in the protest.
"The Chief Minister (Devendra Fadnavis) had said cane farmers should get FRP plus Rs 200, and the government will do everything to clear the dues. However, to date, no dues have been cleared by sugar mills," Shetti told reporters. Farmers have not been paid even 90 days after cane-cutting, though the Sugarcane Act provides that they should be paid within 14 days, Shetti said.
"We demand the government seize sugar from these mills and auction it to clear the dues of cultivators," he added. PTI SPK BNM KRK KRK.
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