The sugar belt pays the price: no new factories for five years

State govt rules out new sugar factories, announces crop insurance scheme

April 19, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 05:43 am IST

ew sugar factories will not be allowed to come up in drought-hit Marathwada for the next five years, the state government announced on Monday. It is also mulling to make drip irrigation mandatory for cultivating sugarcane — one of the most water-intensive cash crops.

Revenue minister Eknath Khadse on Monday said considering the water scarcity in Marathwada, restrictions must be imposed on unlimited use of water by sugar factories. “The government will not give permission to new sugar factories in the region, at least for the next five years,” he said, adding permissions in other regions would be given only after taking the availability of water and usage into consideration.

Mr Khadse had said during the recently-concluded Assembly budget session the Manjara co-operative sugar mill in Latur, owned by former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s family, had used water for crushing sugarcane despite the water scarcity in the district.

He also stressed the need to use methods like drip irrigation for crops such as sugarcane, saying changing the water usage patten was important to stop the indiscriminate use of water. Water cuts to breweries and distilleries in Marathwada are being kept in abeyance as closing a production unit would affect workers but the option hasn’t been ruled out, Mr Khadse said.

Crop insurance scheme

Meanwhile, the state cabinet on Monday announced the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana (PMFBY) in Maharashtra this kharif season.

A state level co-ordination committee will be set up with the Chief Secretary as chairman to decide on issues such as notifying crops under the scheme, risk level and setting up an execution mechanism.

While the scheme is mandatory for all farmers who avail of loans for cultivation, others can be part of it too.

The state and central governments will share the insurance premium equally.

Risks covered under the scheme include losses to standing crops due to fire, lightning, hailstorm, cyclone, excessive rain, floods, landslide, drought and disease.

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