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Some mistake in sugar production data for next season: Agriculture minister

The comments from agriculture minister Sharad Pawar came after food minister KV Thomas on Wednesday said that sugar output is estimated to rise marginally to 24.6 million tonnes in the 2011-12 sugar year (October-September) from 24.3 million tonnes this year

New Delhi: Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today said there seems to be some mistake in sugar production data released by the food ministry and expressed confidence that output is likely to be between 25.5 and 26 million tonnes in the next sugar year, starting October, reports PTI.

Yesterday, food minister KV Thomas had said that sugar output is estimated to rise marginally to 24.6 million tonnes in the 2011-12 sugar year (October-September) from 24.3 million tonnes this year. The data was compiled based on the reports of cane commissioners of ten major producing states.

"My impression is that there is some mistake in the calculation. I will collect the proper figure by Monday and then give it to the food minister," Mr Pawar told reporters when asked about his views on the latest sugar production data released by the food ministry.

"I think production will be between 25.5 and 26 million tonnes. This year, monsoon has been good and reservoir position is also good. So the withdrawal (recovery rate) of sugar from sugarcane will be higher than the current season," he said.

Sugarcane output is pegged at 342.2 million tonnes in the 2011-12 crop year, as against 339.16 million tonnes in the 2010-11 crop year, ended June.

The sugar production estimate of Mr Pawar, who held the food ministry till mid-January this year, is in line with the initial estimate done by the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), the apex industry body for private mills.

Asked whether the lower output estimate by the food ministry would delay exports, Mr Pawar said: "Global prices will become unfavourable if there will be a delay. The government had to provide about Rs1,500 crore to mills as export assistance a few years ago. We do not want that situation."

Earlier this week, Mr Pawar had said the government should announce the policy for sugar exports by the middle of next month as the country is all set to witness bumper production in the 2011-12 sugar year.

"We have to allow exports. From October onward, we should announce a policy for sugar exports. A clear-cut message needs to be given to sugar mills about the quantity to be exported during the next six months," Mr Pawar had said.

Mr Thomas had yesterday said exports would be considered after the festival season.

The government has allowed exports of 2.6 million tonnes of the sweetener in the current sugar year, including 1.5 million tonnes in three equal tranches under Open General Licences (OGL). The remaining 1.1 million tonnes was the pending export obligation of the mills under the Advance Licence Scheme (ALS).

India is the world's second-largest sugar producer after Brazil, but is the biggest consumer of the sweetener. The annual demand stands at 21-21.5 million tonnes.

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IVRCL wins orders worth Rs2,228 crore

Besides its road division, IVRCL's power, buildings, transportation, water and mining divisions won contracts worth another Rs742.94 crore

Infrastructure major IVRCL today said it has bagged new orders worth Rs2,228.94 crore, including a highway upgrade contract in Arunachal Pradesh from the Road Transport Ministry valued at Rs1,486 crore.

Besides its road division, IVRCL's power, buildings, transportation, water and mining divisions won contracts worth another Rs742.94 crore. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has awarded a project for widening of 311 km of trans-Arunachal highways to the IVRCL consortium, the company said.

"The ministry shall provide cash support of Rs1,004 crore to the concessionaire to implement the project," IVRCL said. The order involves construction of 52.60 km of realignments, 49 intersections, two major and 30 minor bridges and 1,707 culverts, it added. The concession period for the project, which will be implemented on a design, build, finance, operate and transfer basis, is 17 years. "The project is being implemented jointly between IVRCL Assets and Holdings Ltd (IVRCL A&H) and Sushee Infra Private Ltd by incorporating an SPV company, wherein IVRCL A&H and IVRCL Ltd will undertake construction work on the proposed road," the company said.

Meanwhile, the company's power division won a Rs108.44 crore project for supply of materials for Haldia Energy Ltd's 400 KV D/C Haldia-Subhashgram transmission line project. Its buildings division won projects worth Rs234.87 crore, including one from GAIL for construction of a raw water and fire water reservoir. In addition, IVRCL's transportation division won contracts worth Rs104.65 crore, the water division bagged projects valued at Rs263.30 crore and the mining division won a Rs31.68 crore project.

In the late afternoon, IVRCL was trading at around Rs38.55 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange, 5.63% down from the previous close.

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