Maharashtra co-operative sugar mills scam: Auctioning continues to haunt State govt  

Radheshyam Jadhav | | Updated on: Mar 16, 2022

Co-op sugar mills have turned private properties as these mills were auctioned at a price less than the price of land controlled by them

Auctioning of sugar mills by the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) over the last few years is once again back to haunt the State government, especially the Indian National Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) sugar barons.

As the Union Co-operative Ministry headed by Home Minister Amit Shah has already hinted that the alleged corruption in the auctioning of mills will be thoroughly probed and the Income Tax (I-T) Department raids continued in Maharashtra, the opposition BJP has brought up the issue in the ongoing Assembly session. 

Farmer leaders and activists allege a “conspiracy” to convert co-operative mills into a private venture to grab assets of mills along with sprawling land packs worth multi-crore.    

For the last few years, loss-making co-operative sugar mills are being auctioned by the MSCB to recover loans but the auctioning process has been questioned.  

Unanswered questions 

Former Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, while raising the issue in the Assembly on Monday, said many questions in sugar mill auctioning remain unanswered. Operational sugar mills in the State were made defunct. Many mills had small debts which could have been rescheduled, but it was not done. When mills were auctioned the loan amount given by banks was considered as debt but the amount given by the State government to sugar mills was not counted. Hence mills were sold at lower prices and banks got the money.

“But who will pay the State government’s amount?” asked Fadnavis. 

Activist Anna Hazare has alleged that when sugar mills were auctioned the price of the land parcels held by mills was not taken into account. These mills were auctioned at a price that was less than the price of land controlled by the mills. The politicos grabbed those high-priced lands owned by mills at much lower prices, alleged Hazare. 

As the Jarandeshwar Sugar Co-operative mill in Satara district failed to repay its loan of ₹24 crore, the Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank (MSCB) auctioned the mill for ₹65.75 crore in 2010. Jarandeshwar’s founder Shalinitai Patil claimed that the actual price of the mill, land, and asset is at least ₹2,000 crore.  

Another major allegation made by the opposition and Hazare is that the same people submitted bids in different names to purchase sugar mills during the auction. 

“Interestingly, the sugar mills purchased (by politicians) at lower price raised much higher loans on the assets of the mills after auctioning,” said Fadnavis. If these assets were of high value why mills were auctioned at low prices? is the question the government has to answer, said Fadnavis 

He said that the case in the sugar mill auction scam was filed only after the High Court’s intervention and the case is still going on. 

Bogey of corruption 

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar who is facing allegations in the Jarandeshwar sugar mill case says that those who are making allegations and accusing leaders of a sugar mill scam must come forward and takeover and operate ailing sugar mills. Pawar says that deliberate efforts are being made to create misunderstandings about the sugar industry in Maharashtra. “The bogey of massive corruption is being created. The fact is that some mills were auctioned because of the High Court’s order,” says Pawar. 

“There have been probes by EOW, anti-corruption bureau, CID, and by a former justice. Some of these probes were conducted when Devendra Fadnavis was Chief Minister. Nothing came out of these probes,” Pawar insisted. 

Published on March 15, 2022
COMMENTS
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

You May Also Like

Recommended for you