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Maharashtra sugar mills set up Covid-19 centres

Our Bureau Pune | Updated on August 11, 2020

Sugar mills in the State are gearing up to set up Covid-19 care centres ahead of the crushing season starting next month. These Covid-19 centres will mainly serve sugarcane cutters who migrate from Marathwada.

Every season over 6 lakh migrant sugarcane cutters come to western and north Maharashtra. However, with the Covid-19 spread, mills fear that cane cutters might not turn up this season.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar has suggested that sugar mills must shoulder the responsibility to set up a small Covid-19 centre and hand it over to the district administration. Mill owners in the sugar belt of the State have responded to Pawar’s appeal.

Sangli-based Vasantdada sugar mill has submitted a proposal to start the Covid-19 care centre. Chairman Vishal Patil said that the mill is ready to run the centre on its own. He added that the mill will cooperate if the district administration wants to run it.

Uncertainty prevails on whether the State government will allow mass migration of sugarcane cutters considering the coronavirus pandemic. Activists working for sugarcane cutters’ welfare say that sugar mills cannot start crushing season unless cane cutters agree to migrate for work. Some sugar mills are planning mechanised cane harvesting, but the majority of mills still rely on cane cutters.

The move by the sugar lobby to start Covid-19 hospitals is seen as an effort to assure sugarcane cutters that sugar mills will take care and responsibility to treat them in the case of Covid-19 infection.

Ramraje Naik- Nimbalkar, Chairman of the State Legislative Council, has suggested that sugar mills must include Covid-19 in the insurance plan for workers.

Published on August 11, 2020

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