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President's Rule in Maharashtra creates uncertainty about starting of crushing season

The sugar commissioner’s office issues licences to sugar mills to begin operations after this date after checking that the mills have fulfilled all their legal obligations and cleared the dues of cane farmers. Mills that begin their operations bef...

, ET Bureau|
Nov 14, 2019, 10.49 AM IST
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Reuters
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Owing to heavy post-monsoon rainfall in Maharashtra in October and the first week of November, Maharashtra Co-operative Sugar Factories Federation had requested the government to begin the crushing season on December 1.
Pune: Imposition of President’s rule in Maharashtra has increased uncertainty about the beginning of the 2019-20 sugarcane crushing season since mills in the state start their crushing operations only after a committee of ministers headed by the chief minister fixes the commencement date.

The sugar commissioner’s office issues licences to sugar mills to begin operations after this date after checking that the mills have fulfilled all their legal obligations and cleared the dues of cane farmers. Mills that begin their operations before the date determined by the government have to pay a fine.

Officials from the sugar commissionerate told ET that they have written to the chief secretary of the state recommending that the crushing season begin from November 25. Owing to heavy post-monsoon rainfall in Maharashtra in October and the first week of November, Maharashtra Co-operative Sugar Factories Federation had requested the government to begin the crushing season on December 1.“However, now we want to begin the crushing operations by November 20. After the rains receded, sugar mills from Karnataka started their crushing operations. They have already started taking cane from Kolhapur,” said PG Medhe, a sugar industry veteran from Kolhapur.

BB Thombare, president, Western Indian Sugar Mills Association said that in the current circumstances, a delay in beginning crushing operations would be detrimental for the industry. “The harvesting labour, whom we have already paid an advance, has started moving out to other states where mills have started operations. Some mills from Marathwada may begin operations from November 15, without waiting for the official decision about the starting date for the crushing season,” he said.

With area under sugarcane in the state declining to 800,000 hectares from around 116,500 hectares in 2018-19, millers from districts bordering Karnataka are worried about poaching of cane. The state’s sugar commissionerate has already issued licences to 91 sugar mills subject to the condition that they can start operations only after getting approval from the state government. Licences of another 65 mills have yet to be cleared by the commissioner's office.

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