Right time to consider freeing sugar sector: Pawar

Till a few years ago, the co-operative sugar mills were not in favour of removing government control. But now, the National Sugar Cooperative Factories Federation has also agreed to a free market

With India's sugar output expected to rebound in the next crop year, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said the time is now "proper" for the government to give a serious thought to decontrolling the sugar industry, reports PTI.

The government controls the sugar sector right from fixing the support price of cane to the quantity of sweetener to be sold in the open market every month.

"I honestly feel that the trend which I am observing, I hope this will continue. If the trend continues, this is the proper time to create a situation where nobody should come to the Food Ministry. This is a proper time to give a serious thought to withdraw various types of controls," Mr Pawar said.

The Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), the apex body for private sugar mills, has been demanding the decontrol of the sector for some years now.

Till a few years ago, the co-operative sugar mills were not in favour of removing the government control. But now, the National Sugar Cooperative Factories Federation (NSCFF) has also agreed for a free market.

Mr Pawar had also said in May that government was not even thinking of decontrolling the industry.

Elaborating the sugar production trend, the minister said the country's sugar output has improved to 18.5 million tonne in the 2009-10 crop year (October-September) from the earlier estimate of around 16 million tonnes.

Also, the sown area under sugarcane for the next crop year is also higher, he said.

As per the official data, sugarcane has been planted in 47.37 lakh hectares till 1st July, against 41.79 lakh hectares in the same period last year.

Recently, the state cane commissioners have estimated sugar production in the 2010-11 crop year to be at 23 million tonne, while the industry bodies have pegged more than this.

India, the world's second biggest producer but largest consumer of sweetener, requires 23 million tonnes of sugar to meet its annual demand.


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Bandh hampers social & economic life of the country

The nation-wide bandh jointly called by several opposition parties brought  most States of the country to a standstill, including Congress-ruled ones like Maharashtra. The 12-hour bandh adversely affected the social and economic life of the country

The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Left parties' call for a Bharat Bandh to protest against the hike in fuel prices could potentially have caused an economic loss of over Rs20,000 crore (if one were to simply divide the GDP number by 365). However, in real terms, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has estimated the loss due to the bandh at around Rs3,000 crore.

As always, the worst affected were the daily wage earners and people dependent on small trade who earned no income on Monday.

The impact of the bandh varied from State to State, but it did have some effect in almost all parts of India. Schools, colleges, shops and business establishments remained closed in most States as groups of protesters took to the streets, trying to enforce the 12-hour bandh. All essential services like supply of water, milk, electricity, hospital and emergency services were excluded from the bandh. Industry corporate offices were open but branches were shut down.

Almost all private carriers cancelled flights in West Bengal; many were scheduled to commence operations after 6.00pm. In many places, public transportation was scarce and in opposition-ruled States, government offices also remained closed.

In Maharashtra, police cracked down on trouble makers and detained nearly 10,000 people. Considering the low passenger load due to the bandh, domestic airlines had cancelled 45 departures and 39 arrivals at the domestic airport in Mumbai. Around 100 buses were stoned and destroyed in Mumbai.

Although many bank branches were closed, clearing operations in most parts of the country were unaffected. The two national stock exchanges headquartered in Mumbai made a determined effort to remain open, however, trading turnover was less than half. The Bombay Stock Exchange turnover was Rs2,857 crore today in comparison to Rs4,554.87 crore on 2nd July. There was a decline of 37%. In case of the National Stock Exchange, the turnover today was Rs7,765.05 crore in contrast to 2nd July when it was Rs11,827.61 crore. Thus, there was a steep decline of 34%. Also, Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd’s turnover today during normal trading hours (from 10.00am to 5.00pm) was Rs7,095 crore in comparison to the same time period on Friday, when it was Rs12,756 crore. Thus, it showed a decline of 44%.

Last month, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had increased the price of petrol by Rs3.50, diesel by Rs2 and kerosene by Rs3 a litre, respectively. Prices of cooking gas had also increased by Rs35 a cylinder.

This, for the first time in years, united both the right wing and left-leaning political parties. Those who participated in the bandh included the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), CPI, Forward Block, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Biju Janata Dal (BJD), JD(S), Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Akali Dal.

In Bihar, several long distance and passenger trains, including the New Delhi-Muzaffarpur Sampark Kranti Express were detained at different stations following the agitation. In Kerala, shops remained closed and there were no buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws moving in the State. Around 700 bus services in various districts of Andhra Pradesh were disturbed and rescheduled.

Also, in case of other States such as Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, the bandh story was more or less the same. Apart from public transport, educational institutions, cinema halls and petrol pumps remained closed in Chhattisgarh. Normal life was also hit in major cities of Rajasthan. Educational institutes remained closed in Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner and Kota. Public transport came to a halt leaving commuters stranded. However, flights and train services remained unaffected in the State.

Road traffic was hit in some cities of Himachal Pradesh. Activists of the BJP along with opposition parties forced people to shut down their shops in most districts of the State. In Karnataka, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, which runs bus services in the State and to neighbouring States, and the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, which services the IT hub, withdrew their buses after several of them were stoned in Bengaluru and other parts of the State.

However, in Tamil Nadu, public transport, educational institutions, the banking sector and other business establishments functioned normally as the bandh, supported by the State’s opposition party AIADMK and its allies, did not affect normal life. Also, most north-eastern states such as Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura remain unaffected by the bandh. In these States, shops, government offices and other business establishments remained open. Transport services also functioned smoothly. However, in Mizoram, some flights were cancelled.



Shantilal Hajeri

7 years ago

Ruling parties should be banned from calling bandhs or supporting bandhs. It is the job of the Government to provoide the basic facilities tot he citizens at all cost. Ruling parties obsrving bandhs is like fence eating the crops.
Even opposition parties should only call a bandh. Whether the industries and business men want to support the bandh or not should be left to them. There should not be any force for observing bandh.
Violence djuring bandh should be treated as a serious criminal offence. Exemplary punishment should be given to those involinving in violence during bandh.

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