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Aland sugar unit to stop cane crushing from today

T.V. Sivanandan

GULBARGA MARCH 5. The Aland Cooperative Sugar Factory has decided to suspend crushing operations for this season from Sunday as farmers have not shown interest in supplying sugarcane to the factory.

Official sources told The Hindu here on Saturday that the factory authorities took the decision to suspend crushing operations following a poor response from farmers.

Shortage

The factory, which started crushing operations on February 15, has crushed only 1,200 tonnes of sugarcane as against a daily crushing capacity of 1,200 tonnes.

Due to the shortage in supply of sugarcane, sugar production has been negligible.

The estimated sugar recovery percentage of the sugarcane crushed so far is only around 8.5 per cent as against the normal recovery percentage of approximately 10 to 11 per cent.

Heavy losses

Sources said that the factory has already suffered a cumulative loss of more than Rs. 33 crores after crushing operations started late this year.

Another Rs. 80 lakh has added up to the loss along with the Rs. 1.25 crores provided as assistance by the State Government for paying the pending salaries of workers and cleaning and overhauling machinery.

Crushing operations began this year after a prolonged agitation by the Joint Action Committee of the Aland Factory Workers and Farmers, led by S.K. Kanta, and intervention by the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh.

Factory officials had cited several reasons, including the low availability of sugarcane in the notified area in the district, sugar factories in Maharashtra offering a higher price for the sugarcane supplied by farmers and the high price for jaggery in the wholesale market, for not reviving the factory this year.

Initially, the factory had fixed a target of crushing at least 40,000 tonnes of sugarcane this year and offered a price of just over Rs. 900 a tonne.

However, factories in Maharashtra are offering more than Rs. 1,000 and payment is being made on the spot.

The factories in the riparian State are depending on sugarcane supplied by farmers in Gulbarga to take up sugar production.

Although there was talk of reviving the Aland sugar factory for more than a year, official information available here pointed out that the factory was not included in the term loan assistance of Rs. 42.45 crores released this year by the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) to revive four sick sugar factories in the cooperative sector in the State.

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