Woman officer points fingers at broker duo
Sugar is sweet, but issues surrounding its production remain bitter. Government officials in the district are struggling to check the smuggling of sugarcane from agricultural fields, meant exclusively for cooperative sugar mills, to private mills.
On Friday, N. Palanisami, president of the Tamil Nadu Sugarcane Farmers’ Association and one of the directors of a cooperative sugar mill at Alanganallur here, attended a meeting convened by Collector L. Subramanian to redress farmers’ grievances, including complaints about rampant smuggling of cane. He pointed out that the smuggling activity was more pronounced in Melur taluk. The Collector called for an explanation from Sugarcane Officer K. Shanthi, who confirmed the allegation and said that the offenders got away because they wielded political influence.
“Two brokers, Tirupathi and Kumar, lure farmers by paying Rs. 1 to 2 lakh. We had seized many lorries carrying smuggled sugarcane and handed them over to the police. But the vehicles are released within half an hour following phone calls from MLAs,” she told the Collector.
Later, talking to The Hindu, Mr. Palanisami said that around 150 tonnes of sugarcane were smuggled at night in 10 to 15 lorries on a daily basis from Melur taluk. He said there were not enough check-posts in the taluk. “Production of sugar is very low owing to the dearth of cane. Presently, only a small amount of 1.5 lakh tonnes of sugarcane were available at the Alanganallur cooperative mill. In such a situation, letting people smuggle registered as well as unregistered sugar cane will be detrimental to the cooperative mill,” he said.
However, denying that registered canes were also being smuggled, Ms. Shanthi said that the private mills and their brokers were involved in smuggling only unregistered sugarcane. But even that required official sanction. "It is mandatory for private mills and their representatives to obtain a no-objection certificate (NoC) from me for transporting even unregistered cane from an area reserved for a cooperative mill. But the two brokers are smuggling the cane without obtaining the NoC," she added.