New Initiatives

Government subsidy for purchase of Cane Harvester Machine

Maharashtra accounts for one third of the total Sugar production in India. In 2010-11, the state had Sugar Cane cultivation in area of 10.22 Lakh hectares. This has increased to 10.43 Lakh hectares in the year 2011-12. Increasing area under cultivation consequently, requires larger work force for the harvesting and transportation of sugarcane.

However in recent years the sugar industry is facing a major shortage of laborers for the purpose of harvesting and transportation of cane. Due to various Government initiatives like educational facilities, alternate employment options available for workers, changes in lifestyle due to improved social & educational standard, day by day the number of laborers is decreasing in the state. As such, the Sugar factories in the state are facing a labor crunch.

To solve this problem, it is essential to use modern technology to harvest the cane crop. So the Govt. has taken the initiative to encourage the use of mechanical harvesters to harvest some area of sugar cane crop. By using the Cane Harvesting Machines the problem of labor shortage can be solved to some extent. However, due to high purchase cost of these Cane Harvester Machines, the buyers of these machines need some financial assistance from the Government. Accordingly, the Government has taken a decision to give 25% of the cost of the machine or maximum Rs. 25 Lakhs as subsidy to the purchasers i.e. the farmers or the co-operative Sugar mills.

E-Governance Initiative at Sugar Commissionerate

As part of the e-Governance initiative of Government of Maharashtra , a new state-of-the-art web portal of Sugar Commissionerate of Maharashtra has been developed by Mahaonline Ltd., under the guidance of Sugar Commissioner Shri. Vijay Singhal. It contains information about Sugar, the Sugar industry in Maharashtra, details of the Commissionerate and its various sections, details of all Cooperative & Private Sugar factories in the state including their address & Google maps of their locations. The website will also carry information related to Sugar department like important Government Resolutions (GR), Circulars, Court Orders, Guidelines etc. This information will be useful for Cane Harvesters, Sugar Factories, Departmental staff as well as industry experts, researchers & the citizens.

Work is also in progress for development of the Maharashtra Sugar Information System (MSIS) – an application for automating the governance structure of various sections in the Commissionerate & allied offices across the state. The MSIS will have users at various levels – at Mantralaya, at the Sugar Commissionerate & its Regional offices as well as the Sugar factories. Through this software, the department will be able to track various details like Sugar crushing & Production Statistics, Recovery (%) Administrative & FINANCIAL DETAILS of factories, etc. Using this applications factories will be able to submit online proposals for cane crushing license, Technical sanctions, expansion and modernization, Administrative & FINANCIAL approvals, various loans and grants proposals etc.

The department is also planning to revive the portal developed for ‘Online Sale of Sugar and by-products ’ by SSKs. The total annual turnover of Sugar & its by-products is estimated at Rs. 25,000-30000. Crores. Implementing sugar sale through Internet will help in curbing the malpractices currentaly rampant in the industry. Also, the portal will provide a National & International platform for even smaller sugar factories in the state. The online process will help in increasing the number of participants in the tendering process & will also result in increase in Tender revenue. This will help sugar factories & subequently, the farmers in getting good returns for their cane crop.

It is also proposed to create a UID Aadhar-linked database of members of all co-operative sugar factories in the state. This will enable factories to transfer the member’s cane payment directly into their Aadhar-linked bank accounts. This will result in simplified & quick processing of cane payments to the farmers.

Sugar Commissionerate is implementing a GIS solution. In first phase, all sugar factories in the state have been mapped on the states district wise map. All factory information is available at a single mouse click. In the next phase,village wise listing of factory working area is being marked on GIS maps to denote high & low recovery zones, high production capacity areas, factories showing good financial performance etc. on the map.

Formation of THINK TANK within Sugar Commissionerate

Sugar industry is one of the most important industries in Maharashtra. Maharashtra contributes nearly 35% of the total sugar production in the country. The sugar industry in Maharashtra brings in about Rs 2200crores in the form of revenue to the Central and State Govts.

However this important industry is subject, on a large scale, to the vagaries of nature. Quite often the industry is adversely affected due to uncertainty in the availability of sugarcane; which is dependent upon the climatic conditions. It is also affected by the uncertainty in the rates of sugar and its by-products which are dependent on the domestic and international market conditions.

Hence to address the problems faced by the sugar industry in the state it has been decided to form a THINK TANK within the aegis of the Sugar Commissionerate, which will not only look into the current issues related to the industry but also offer solutions with the help of experts from the related areas

The THINK TANK is also expected to study the sugar industry within and outside the country and collect information regarding the sugar production, recovery, by-product production, etc and also the innovations and success stories within the sugar industry,and, try with the help of experts to adapt them for the development of the sugar industry in the state.

The Sugar Commissioner will be the Chairperson of the THINK TANK. Members include the Directors of Sugar( Finance and Admn) in Sugar Commissionerate, Director- General of Vasantdada Sugar Institute,Pune, M.D of Maharashtra State Co-op Sugar Federation, Chairman and Managing Directors of various sugar mills (both co-op and private), Chief Chemists, Accountants of Sugar mills and other technical experts as may be required.
The THINK TANK will also look into the administrative problems faced by the sugar industry , such as timely statutory audit, cost audit, energy audit, mode of sale of sugar and by-products, procurement of raw material at remunerative prices, training of sugar industry personnel, inclusion of private mills into the mainstream, etc.
The THINK TANK will function under the guidance of Hon. Minister (Co-operation), Hon. Minister of State (Co-opertion), Hon. Secretary (Co-opertion) and Hon. Chairman, Maharashtra State Co-op Sugar Federation.

Scrutiny of Audit Reports

As per provisions of section 81 of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, 1960 it is specified that statutory audit of the cooperative sugar factories is to be carried out every year. Accordingly the statutory audit is done by the Special Auditors appointed for this purpose by the Sugar Commissioners.

However it is not enough merely to carry out audit. The points/discrepancies regarding the working of the factory which are pointed out in the audit report have to be rectified also. As per provision of section 82 of the MCS Act the cooperative society has to rectify the defects and submit its Rectification Report to the Registrar within 3 months of receiving the audit report.

But it has been noticed that most of the co-operative factories neglect to do so. Consequently the defects pointed out in one audit are carried forward to the next audit report and so on. Rectification is not done on time and thus the entire purpose of carrying out audit is defeated.

Hence it has been decided that henceforth, a scrutiny of the audit reports will be carried out on a regular basis by the Regional Joint Directors (Sugar). The audit reports will be scrutinized by the auditors other than one who has done that particular audit. The purpose of this exercise will be to bring out the important defects mentioned in the audit report so that they can be caused to be rectified immediately and will not be repeated. The scrutiny will underline not only the faults but also such good points(administrative or technical), about the factory that need special mention and may serve as a pointer to other factories.

Cost Audit and Energy Audit

It has been observed that there is a lack of awareness regarding the issue of cost effectiveness of the inputs required by the sugar industry for sugar production. Hence in order to minimize the costs of the industry it has been made mandatory that a cost audit of the co-operative sugar mill shall be carried out every year. Aim is to cut down the unnecessary expenses and optimize the cost of production.

Similarly it has been made mandatory for the co-operative sugar mills to carry out energy audit every year. The sugar mills utilise fuel/energy on a large scale for their production activities. If the use of energy is optimised it will definitely be beneficial to the sugar mills. And it will also help in the conservation of energy. The energy audit will help to point out the unnecessary use of energy and it will help the sugar mill to save on the cost of fuel/energy. This will ultimately reduce expenditure and help in enhancing the financial position of the mill.