Even as the sugar season 2019-20 is gathering momentum in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s top producer of the kitchen staple, the Yogi Adityanath government has directed the mills to operate at optimum capacity.
The government has warned millers of strict action if they are found to be crushing less than 92 per cent of their ‘rated’ crushing capacity.
Till November 30, some 111 mills in UP had clocked total sugar output of nearly 1.1 million tonnes (MT), compared to less than one million tonnes in 2018-19 season.
In the current season, UP is estimated to account for 12 MT of sugar production, or nearly 45 per cent of the country’s estimated output in 2019-20. According to ISMA’s earlier report, the domestic sugar production is expected to fall 20 per cent to 26 MT compared a more than 33 MT in 2018-19. The cane acreage is pegged at 4.83 million hectares (MH) this year.
UP cane and sugar commissioner Sanjay Bhoosreddy has directed state- and district-level cane officials to identify defaulting mills and to take legal action against them after issuing notices.
He noted that the wheat and rabi crop sowing season was currently on and to make the vacant fields available to farmers, it was necessary that all mills worked at full capacity to crush as much cane as possible, so that seasonal sowing could take place on time.
Earlier, chief minister Yogi Adityanath had also instructed the department to take steps to ensure transparency in sugarcane weighing, and to curb the ‘cane mafia’ in the state.
In this regard, the officials have already been empowered to conduct detailed inspections of cane purchase centres and start fortnightly transfers of weighing clerks, selected randomly by the department’s new online system.
In the current crushing season, nearly 1,500 inspections of purchase centres have so far been conducted by the department to check under-weighing. During inspections, 11 irregularities of a serious nature and 107 of common nature were found. Later, the licenses of 16 weighing clerks were suspended and legal action initiated under the rules.
Besides, police cases have been lodged under sections 420 and 120 (B) of the IPC against two officials of a sugar mill for their alleged involvement in illegal cane purchase and for sending fake SMS to farmers.
Cases were also lodged in five other cases against the ‘cane mafia’ under relevant sections of IPC and the UP Sugarcane (Supply and Purchase Regulation Act, 1953) & Section 3/7 of the Essential Commodities Act, Bhoosreddy informed.
Meanwhile, UP sugarcane minister Suresh Rana told Business Standard the crushing season was progressing well and the mills had produced more sugar this year compared to the corresponding period last year. “The sugar production is higher than last year and the recovery percentage is also better,” he said adding the state cane price would be announced soon.