Published On : Fri, Apr 24th, 2015

Sugar mills of political bigwigs found defaulters of farmers’ dues, in crores

Names of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, NCP stalwart Ajit Pawar, State Minister Pankaja Munde, former Finance Minister Jayant Patil, MPCC President Ashok Chavan, if sources are to be believed, have been found in the list of defaulters, among others. The sugar mills, owned directly or indirectly by these bigwig leaders and others, have failed to pay the farmers their dues despite supply of sugarcane long back.

Nagpur: The excess production of sugarcane and the sugar as well has created a problem of sort. And the farmers are finding themselves at receiving end of the unprecedented problem. Non-payment of their dues is staring the farmers in their faces. And the defaulters too are in no way small persons. They are elite in the field. Names of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, NCP stalwart Ajit Pawar, State Minister Pankaja Munde, former Finance Minister Jayant Patil, MPCC President Ashok Chavan, if sources are to be believed, have been found in the list of defaulters among others. The sugar mills, owned directly or indirectly by these bigwig leaders and others, have failed to pay the farmers their dues despite supply of sugarcane long back. According to the office of Sugar Commissioner, a total of 38 mills in State have been marked as the biggest defaulters of payment with the figure standing at Rs 3148 crore. The rules say that the sugarcane suppliers should be paid their dues by the mills within 14 days. There is provision of legal action if the mills default. Out of the 38 mills, some are reportedly in control of the named leaders.
According to Sugar Commissioner Vipin Sharma, the recovery action against the 38 defaulting sugar mills has been initiated. However, the sources in sugar mills said that the sugar industry all around the world is in grip of recession. To make matter dicey, the production of sugarcane and sugar showed a glut in the State last year. The excess production resulted in the prices registering a decline. At present, stocks and stocks of sugar are lying in mill godowns unsold. This year, the sugar production showed a record 99.6 metric tonnes as compared to 74.43 lakh tonnes last year. According to All India Sugar Mills Association, a stock of 22 lakh tonnes of sugar is in surplus. Moreover, the poor sell has made the situation precarious for sugar mills. Ultimately, both the sugar mill owners and the farmers are put in a fix. The situation has come to such a pass that the difference between production and sell has been pegged at Rs 500 only.
The office of Sugar Commissioner has so far concluded five rounds of hearing with the defaulting sugar mills. In the first round, 160 mills were covered. And in accordance with the pending dues the mills were categorized. Sources in Sugar Commissioner’s office said the 99 of the mills did not make payments to farmers sufficiently. However, 38 mills were found non-payers in maximum scale. The MPCC President Ashok Chavan has a pending amount of Rs 692 crore followed by State Minister Pankaja Munde at Rs 318 crore. Nitin Gadkari also owes an amount in crores while Jayant Patil has a staggering amount of Rs 801 crore against his name, said sources.

Rajeev Ranjan Kushwaha(rajeev.nagpurtoday@gmail.com)