Unhappy over the massive protest by the sugarcane growers against the private sugar mills, Punjab Cooperation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa on Wednesday claimed to break the monopoly of private sugarcane mills by enhancing the capacity of cooperative sugar mills.
“In the coming years, the capacity of cooperative mills will be increased so that the state’s farmers were not made to suffer and sell their sugarcane to the cooperative sugar mills, instead of the private ones,” said the Minister.
Randhawa said that there are nine cooperative sugar mills in Punjab and the work to increase their capacity has already been started. “In the times to come, the cooperative sugar mills would crush more sugarcane as compared to the private mills, and farmers will get the payment for their produce on time,” he added.
“We are working on making all the cooperative sugar mills fully-operative and not to allow to shut down any of them,” said a senior official of the state Cooperation Department.
The official maintained that the state’s cooperative sugar mills, which are running in losses, would be renovated and transformed and better performance would be derived from them.
“For that, we are either considering to modify the present machinery of the cooperative sugar mills or purchasing the new one,” said the official.
Notably, a new modernised sugar mill project has already been initiated at the state’s oldest cooperative sugar mill at Bhogpur, which is expected to be completed by March 31 next. With the commencement of the project, the sugar mill will have a capacity of 3,000 TCD (tons of cane per day) against the present capacity of 1016 TCD.
Besides, the new sugar plant would produce 15 MW (megawatt) power, out of which, about 8.5 MW would be sold to the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited.
The Minister had already cautioned the general managers of all the sugar mills as well as the officers to stop the trend of making profits accrue to private sugar mills, while calling for fixing the accountability of such officers “who desist from and shirk their responsibility of deriving results from the cooperative sugar mills on par with the private sugar mills”.
Randhawa had also announced to personally visit all the cooperative sugar mills to hold brainstorming sessions with its stakeholders and farmers with regard to the reasons of the cooperative sugar mills showing losses and future remedial steps.