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

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Jayashree.Bhos­ale @times­

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.

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