Eleven fresh police cases were filed against private sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh after raids conducted by a joint team of state excise and sugarcane departments over alleged irregularities related to procurement of sugarcane from farmers.
According to sources, First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered against the units owned by Triveni, Uttam, Bajaj Hindusthan and Mawana groups today under Section 3/7 (Essential Commodities Act) and other charges relating to forgery and conspiracy.
Till Thursday, 39 FIRs had been lodged against the occupiers and senior officials of top sugar producers, including Bajaj, Birla, DCM, Uttam, Triveni, Mawana, Simbhaoli and Tikola groups. With 11 fresh cases, the figure has reached 50 and the drive is likely to continue for the next 3-4 days. In the last crushing season, 71 FIRs were registered.
The sugar industry has cried foul over the raids and cases saying they were being ‘exploited’ by the state administration.
“This is exploitation at the hands of the official machinery and these steps are uncalled for,” an industry insider told Business Standard on condition of anonymity.With sugar prices at record high, sugar mills are making excellent profits, though it has raised the demand for higher cane prices to farmers.
The mills have been charged with keeping unaccounted sugarcane stock, violation of cane reservation order, committing forgery with sugarcane societies, tax evasion and breach of the Sugarcane Control, Purchase and Supply Act, 1953, which also contains provision for Essential Commodities Act.
So far over 4,300 raids had been conducted, wherein over 600 cases of irregularities were detected. The government had on January 13 dismissed 116 cane weighing clerks and suspended their licences.
As sugarcane crop this time is small, there is a scramble in UP amongst sugar mills, gur and khandsari units to reach the farmers first. The mills are already paying between Rs 230-250 per quintal to farmers. “We will all sit together next week and decide our next step….we can survive only if we are united,” the industry source said. State sugar commissioner Sudhir M Bobde could not be reached for comments. Chief Minister Mayawati has reiterated her government would not allow millers to process raw sugar until the crushing season is complete in the interest of farmers.