Special Correspondent

Effort is aimed at ensuring their self-sufficiency

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab Government has chalked out an ambitious plan to generate power worth Rs.200 crore every year by setting up co-generation power plants at all the State-owned cooperative sugar mills. The effort is aimed at ensuring self-sufficiency of these public sector undertakings which are currently plagued by losses.

This was disclosed by Punjab’s Cooperation Minister Kanwaljit Singh after presiding over a workshop organised here by a public sector undertaking, Sugarfed, to suggest various ways to make the State cooperative sugar mills profitable ventures. The workshop was attended by the Chairpersons and Directors of all the State-run cooperative sugar mills.

Capt. Kanwaljit Singh revealed that the State cooperative mills had the potential of generating 100-120 MW power annually and the State Electricity Board had offered to purchase the same at Rs.2.86 per unit, creating additional revenue of more than Rs.200 crore, which would compensate the existing losses of all these mills accumulating to Rs.77.95 crore.

The Minister said a comprehensive revival plan to convert these mills into mega sugar complexes had been drafted and priority would be given to enhance their crushing capacity. Besides, creation of additional sources of income was being explored with special emphasis on diversification and production of ethanol.

Blending of ethanol

He recalled that the Centre had already allowed blending of ethanol in petrol and diesel up to five per cent, which would be further increased to ten per cent in the coming year. The Minister said a proposal had been drafted as the State government had agreed in principle to grant bottling licences to three distilleries of the State cooperative sugar mills. He emphasised that Rs.22 crore out of total of Rs.37 crore arrears towards sugarcane growers would be disbursed within a week and efforts were on to clear all dues in the near future.

Capt. Singh said the Registrar of the Cooperative Societies had been directed to constitute a high-level committee of senior officers to streamline the functioning of cooperative institutions and bring about more efficiency in their functioning as well as reduce the time of decision-making. He expected the committee to submit its report within a month, after which the “cooperatives would initiates steps to begin functioning in a corporate mode”. Appealing to the Chairpersons and Directors of the mills to bring about a change in their mind-set, the Minister urged them to work in unison and efficiently to ensure ownership of sugar mills by the farmers.

He said while the cooperative bodies must play an important role in view of the ever increasing competition in the market, the PSUs must be in the forefront to prevent exploitation of the farmers at the hands of private players.