By Sundeep Pouranik
Morena/Bhopal, June 26 (IANS) Due to the emerging need of ethanol as an alternate hi-performance, cleaner fuel, and the prospect of getting better prices for sugarcane for this purpose, defunct sugar mills across the country are on the path of revival. However, the situation in Kailaras of Madhya Pradesh's Morena district presents a different picture.
The farmers here want a decade-old defunct sugar mill to be revived but obstacles are at every step in the efforts made in this direction as certain events amount to destroying this facility.
Morena and its surrounding areas have been a producer of sugarcane, which is why the cooperative sugar factory was established here nearly five decades ago. This was the first cooperative sugar factory in the state. This factory in Kailaras got its license to produce sugar in 1965 but the first production started in 1971-72. The operations continued till 2009, after which, production declined for one year due to low crop produce. By 2011, because of mounting liabilities, this mill was closed.
The use of ethanol as an alternative to petroleum products has given renewed hope to sugarcane growers and sugar factories. The farmers of Morena have made up their mind to restart this factory. For this purpose, they formed Madhyanchal Kisan Udyog Limited. This cooperative committee is ready to pay all the liabilities as per the rules.
A liquidator has been appointed to oversee this factory. There is an approved bank loan of up to Rs 50 crore for this organisation. This factory is spread over 40 hectares of land, has two big godowns, and machinery worth crores of rupees which is now being termed as junk.
While the farmer is trying to revive and run this factory, there are attempts to sell its machinery by way of scrapping. Department of Investment and Public Asset Management resorted to scrap-sale of the parts which could fetch hefty sums. This matter reached Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan who ordered to stop the scrap sale.
M.D. Parashar, former General Manager of Kailars Sugar Factory, who is also the operator of Madhyanchal Kisan Udyog Limited, reiterates that sugar mills which have been closed for the last two decades are being started in many parts of the country. 'If this factory starts functioning then the fate of farmers of this area will change,' he said.
Experts say that if the government must auction this factory, then it should be done on the condition of running the sugar factory; but they find it beyond comprehension that the property be sold in parts.
Kailaras comes under Morena parliamentary constituency and the MP from here is Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. The state government's Cooperation Minister Arvind Singh Bhadauria, Public Works Minister Gopal Bhargava, former ministers Rustam Singh and Anoop Mishra have requested the government on their behalf to run this factory. Although the process of selling scrap has been stopped, the big question is whether the farmers will be able to actually revive the factory.
Prashant Mehta, former Divisional Commissioner of Gwalior and former Additional Chief Secretary to Madhya Pradesh government, said that 'The resolve of the people here to produce sugarcane in five thousand hectares and collect capital of Rs 10 crore shows their will. Selling the factory is the last and sad option. The Chief Minister of the state is very sensitive to farmers, I hope that this effort of the farmers succeeds.'
He recounted that when he was the Divisional Commissioner of Gwalior in 1983-84, for the first time there was highest production and profit. Besides the farmers, the employees too got bonus and a tour of India was also gifted.
In the letters written by the politicians to the Chief Minister, it is said that farmers in Morena and its surrounding areas can easily cultivate sugarcane as water is plentifully available for irrigation and the crop is not harmed by frost rain.
Parashar, the former General Manager of the sugar factory, informs that when the plant was closed, it had employed about 500 workers and benefited several thousand farmers and other workers. Mustard is now cultivated in Morena. Sugarcane will fetch the farmer greater returns.
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