The Uttar Pradesh government has urged the Central government to hike the monthly sale quota of sugar mills in the 2019-20 crushing season in the state.
The hike in the sale quota will ensure more revenue for the sugar industry, enabling it to clear the outstanding Rs 4,700 crore cane arrears of farmers besides clearing the sugar stock of the previous crushing season.
Currently, the sale quota is about 7 lakh metric tons per month and it is , reckoned hindering the capacity of private sugar mills to settle cane arrears.
Of the total payables of Rs 33,048 crore of the 2018-19 crushing season, the pending dues to farmers add up to Rs 4,700 crore, nearly 15 per cent of mills’ net payment commitment.
Private mills account for the bulk of Rs 4,370 crore; government-controlled cooperative sector sugar mills owe Rs 335 crore while the lone mill of the UP State Sugar Corporation owes Rs 34 crore.
“We urge the Centre to increase the sale quota of UP mills, considering the position of arrears in the state. I plan to meet Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan in this regard soon,” said Sugarcane Development and Sugar Industries Minister Suresh Rana.
He said the defaulting sugar mills had expressed inability to settle the dues owing to their unsold sugar stock.
The state government and private sugar mills have for long been demanding a higher sale quota for UP mills.
“We are targeting 100 per cent settlement of arrears by the end of October,” Rana said, while underlining that stern action would be taken against defaulters.
He further said that the UP Power Corporation owed about Rs 1,000 crore to the private sugar mills against purchase of co-generated power. “We will also request the chief minister to facilitate this payment, in the interests of farmers,” the minister said.
The Cane department is also likely to seek a special package of at least Rs 300 crore from the state government for settling cane dues on co-operative sector sugar mills. Last year, the Yogi Adityanath government had allocated Rs 500 crore to the co-operative units for paying the arrears of farmers.
Rana said western UP mills would start crushing after Diwali while in eastern UP, all mills would start operation by the middle of November.
Earlier, the state had filed FIR against nine private sugar mills for delay in payment to the farmers. The FIRs were filed under the stringent sections 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act and sections 420 and 120 (B) of the Indian Penal Code. Besides, recovery certificates were also issued against them by the district magistrates concerned.
In the 2018-19 season, 119 sugar mills in UP — 94 private, 24 co-operative and one unit of state sugar corporation — had participated in crushing. The state’s sugar output was 1.18 crore MT compared to a little over 1.2 crore MT in 2017-18. This year, the government expects 121 mills to crush cane.