MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government on Thursday asked for a complete decontrol of the sugar industry, a constant policy for 15 years and to allow exports without any hindrance.

At a meeting with noted economist Dr C Rangarajan, chairman of the high level expert committee appointed by the Centre to resolve the problems faced by the sugar industry, the state government asked that sugar be removed from the essential commodities Act.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan met Rangarajan along with several senior state cabinet minister including minister for agriculture Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, minister for co-operation Harshvardha Patil, rural development minister Jayant Patil, and others.

The committee is looking into issues such as removing control from sugar industry, availability of sugar at fair price to common people, co-generation, stable policy of import and Export, price of Ethanol, Distance of 25 k.m. between two sugar factories, Jute packaging etc. The committee has already visited Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and will next be visiting Tamil Nadu. It is expected to submit its report to the Prime Minister towards July end.

At present there are 170 sugar factories in Maharashtra, of which 119 are cooperative and 51 are privately owned. Around 45 lakh families of sugar producers are dependent on this industry which has an annual turnover of Rs.35,000 Crore. Around ten lakh labourers are employed in this industry. The state earns an annual revenue of Rs 1,533 crore and 650 MW power is generated from this sector.

The ministers demanded a greater share for Maharashtra from the Sugar Development Fund as it contributes nearly 40% of the total funds and no income-tax to be levied on the sugar factory owners. They also demanded that the distance between two sugar factories should be a minimum of 25 kms.

source: TOI


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