Sugar Millls didn’t Cause Drought, Pawar Defends Turf
Warns Maha mills of impending central govt action due to price rise; tells mills to spend on water conservation
Pune: NCP leader Sharad Pawar came to the defence of sugar mills – blamed for the drought in Maharashtra -- on Thursday, arguing that the mills had been there for the past 20 years, and the current water scarcity has nothing to do with them. He, however, told every mill in the state to spend up to .₹ 25 lakh on water conservation.
Apart from advising mills to help in tackling the current drought, Pawar also briefed them about the impending central government actions in the wake of rising prices.
As the central government weighs the option of imposing stock limit on sugar to tame rising prices, Pawar, who would be meeting central authorities on April 26, said retail prices should remain at about .₹ 40 per kg, so that mills can repay their debt and settle cane prices with farmers as well.
The current stock of sugar in Maharashtra is 72 lakh tonne compared with 44 lakh tonne in Uttar Pradesh. “The central government thinks that Maharashtra mills are hoarding sugar. However, while mills want to sell sugar, traders are not ready to lift it. So, we will request the central government to buy the sugar that’s not lifted by traders for its public distribution scheme,” said Pawar while addressing a meeting of Maharashtra’s cooperative and private sugar mills. “The central government needs to be sympathetic towards the mills till they repay their soft loan,” he said.
Clarifying his recent statement that even though he was not in power, he will not let sugar prices fall, Pawar said, “What we want is that sugar prices should not fall so much that mills will not be able to pay the government-mandated FRP (fair and remunerative price) and will have to approach the government again for financial assistance.”
He also advised sugar mills to keep selling sugar without waiting for further rise in prices. Maharashtra cooperation minister Chandrakant Patil asked the sugar mills to clear the cane payment arrears of the current season which stand at .₹ 3,100 crore by May 1.