Mumbai: Sugar imported from Pakistan for sale in the State has irked all sections of society. The political parties are criticising the government over reports of the import, while the government says such import, if any, was done illegally.
Subhash Deshmukh, Co-operative Minister said, “Sugar is not imported. There is something wrong and the government is looking into it.”
The news of the import come at a time when the bumper sugarcane crop has led to a serious dip in price of sugar in domestic and international markets. To ride out the crisis, the Indian sugar industry is looking for avenues to export sugar to the country’s neighbours. In this situation, import of sugar from Pakistan has weakened the industry’s position.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) warned sugar traders not to sell the imported sugar.
Gajanan Kale, Chief of MNS Navi Mumbai unit said, “We oppose the sale of sugar imported from Pakistan at the Navi Mumbai market here.”
MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande said the party strongly objects to buying sugar from the neighbouring country and have written to the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), warning them to stop the import.
“Our industry is in need of Central government. The government should empower mills to export their sugar. But here we are allowing Pakistani sugar to be imported. This is a complete mess on the part of government policies as well as cruel for farmers of India,” said farmer leader and MP Raju Shetti.
Maharashtra State Congress President Ashok Chavan said the government assured that it will bring back underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. “Instead, they imported sugar for sale,” he said.
Patil targeted the Shiv Sena over the import of sugar from Pakistan. “Shiv Sena did not allow the Pakistani actors and singers to perform here, then why are they silent on the issue,” he asked.
State Marketing Minister Subhash Deshmukh clarified that the State government is looking into the matter and it will help sugarcane-growing farmers. “The government has not allowed anyone to import the sugar as the Central government has increased the import duty by 100 per cent. So there is no possibility of import of sugar. There might be something wrong or it could have been brought illegally into the country,” he said.
Sugar produced in Pakistan is Re 1 cheaper than the Indian sugar. So if a private industrialist imported 30,000 quintals of sugar into India from Pakistan, it is a big setback for Indian sugar producers.
At a recently-held meeting in the city of all private and cooperative sugar mill leaders, it was decided that Indian sugar needs to be exported to neighbouring countries to help the farmers here. It is estimated that India’s sugar production this year will touch 316 lakh metric tonnes, of which Maharashtra alone will produce around 104 lakh metric tonnes.