15 sugar factories in Maharashtra get notice for failing to pay fair and remunerative price dues

The Maharashtra Sugar Commissionerate has issued notices to 15 sugar factories in the state for their failure to pay the fair and remunerative Price (FRP) payments due to farmers, senior officials of the Commissionerate revealed. The FRP arrears as on date are to the tune of Rs 780 crore.

According to the Sugarcane Control Act, factories must make full payment to the farmers within 14 days of taking the crop for crushing. But these factories made payments of less than 60% of the total dues. Around 144 factories participated in crushing 545.83 lakh tonnes this season.

According to the data released by the Commissionerate, the total FRP of Rs 12,785.75 crore is to be paid by factories to cane farmers as on April 30. Of the total dues, factories have paid Rs 12,036.62 crore — amounting to 94% of the total dues.

Around 86 factories have made 100% cane payments to farmers and 58 factories owe FRP dues. Of these, 29 factories have made FRP payments ranging between 80% and 99.99%, 14 factories have made payments between 60% and 79.99%, and 15 factories have made less than 60% FRP payments to the farmers.

The notices have been issued by the regional joint directors of the respective areas where the sugar factories are located in the state, officials said. According to the officials, due to the lockdown across the country, no action was initiated by the Commissionerate till date for the recovery of FRP dues.

Since sugar commissioner Saurabh Rao has been given the additional charge of Coronavirus Control, the directives have been issued by the regional joint directors (RJDs).

Sugar recoveries were hit this season due to the extended monsoons in parts of Maharashtra and drought in other parts of the state. The sugar season this year was short due to a low cane availability. In Maharashtra, sugar production till April 30, 2020, was 60.67 lakh tonnes, compared to 107.15 lakh tonnes produced last year in the same period, almost 46.5 lakh tonnes less than last year. Around 144 factories participated in crushing 545.83 lakh tonnes this season. Last season, some 195 factories had crushed 949.9 lakh tonnes of cane and Revenue Recovery Code (RRC) notices were issued to 54 factories.

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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