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Farm loan waiver: Decision to charge sugar mills draws anger

Farm loan waiver: Decision to charge sugar mills draws anger

The Maharashtra government’s decision to charge Rs 4 per tonne from sugar mills for the Chief Ministers’ Relief Fund has not gone down well with the industry as well as farmers leaders, who have raised their objections over such a move.

As the objective of CM Relief Fund has been modified to use a portion of it for agri loan waiver scheme, farmers leaders’ alleged that Fadnavis is going to use farmers’ money for their loan waiver.

 The industry officials as well as farmers leaders today claimed that the state government in July has decided to use CM relief fund for implementation of agri loan waiver.

A meeting chaired by chief minister Fadnavis today, it was decided to increase the CM Relief Fund amount from Rs two per tonne of produced sugar to Rs four, which will be paid by sugar mills across the state.

There are more than 160 sugar mills in the state that are generally carried out sugarcane crushing activity every season.

Sanjeev Babar, managing director of Maharashtra Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories Association Ltd told PTI that this move is nothing but collection of funds for farmers’ loan waiver.

“If one of the objectives of CM relief fund is to use the money for farmers’ loan waiver; then it is obvious that increased fee from sugar mills will be used for loan waiver. “This is unacceptable as sugar mills in the state are not financial sound, and the additional burden of Rs four per tonne will affect our profit margins further,” he said.

Raju Shetti, senior farmer leader and member of parliament from Kolhapur said, “This is outrageous, as in the name of CM Relief Fund, sugar mills used to cut Rs two per tonne from farmers’ bill and deposit it to the government.

“It means, the government is going to collect Rs 4 per per tonne from farmers to waive their loan. This is not acceptable.”

Ideally, the Rs two per tonne were supposed to be paid by the mills, but in reality mills cut it from farmers’ bill.

Babar said, “By this hike, the state government will at least earn Rs 280 crore in the current season from sugar mills. The sugarcane crushing season would begin from November 1 and expected to last till March 2018.”

Shetti said, “The Maharashtra government in its GR dated on July 6 has added an objective to the utilisation of CM relief fund to assist the state government’s loan waiver schemes.

“It clearly means, the state government has decided to use a portion of CM relief fund for its own farmers’ loan waiver scheme announced on June 24.”

Shetti had recently parted ways with the BJP alleging that the ruling government in the Centre as well as in the state being anti-farmers.

The Maharashtra government’s loan waiver scheme is claimed to be as high as Rs 34,000 crore.

As per the government resolution on July 6, there were 10 different objectives listed by the Maharashtra government for the use of money from the CM relief fund. But in the GR, it added the 11th objective — financing farmers loan waiver scheme — to make use of the fund.

“So far, the CM relief fund was used for several relief works such as drought, scarcity of water and fodder and medical support. After the GR, now it can be officially used for loan waiver assistance,” a state official told PTI.

The CM relief fund aims at providing immediate relief to the people in distress in the state as well as in the country. It provides monetary help to those affected by major natural calamities like flood, drought, fire accident, and so on.

It also provides financial assistance to economically weaker citizens for treatment of some major diseases. Last year, the chief minister’s office had extended Rs 114 crore for the treatment of cancer patients.