The Bombay high court on Monday temporarily restrained the commissioner of sugar from granting permission for extension, capacity addition or modernisation of any sugar factory in Maharashtra.
Acting on a public interest litigation filed by Pune-based project consultant Ashok Kulkarni in July 2006, the high court has already restrained the commissioner of sugar, who is the head of the department for coordinating various functions relating to the sugar mills in the state, from granting permission for new cooperative sugar factories in the state.
The state government had filed a plea seeking to vacate the stay order.
Kulkarni, on Monday, pointed out to the court that new cooperative sugar factories were being permitted in Maharashtra under the guise of modernisation, capacity addition or extension to circumvent the stay order. In his affidavit, Kulkarni said that after the July 2006 stay order, the commissioner of sugar had granted permissions for either extension or modernisation or capacity addition to 32 cooperative sugar factories.
In his PIL, Kulkarni alleged that more than Rs 40,000 crore of public money, which has been distributed to cooperative sugar factories through various financial aid packages, has gone down the drain, and nothing substantial had come out of these packages given under the guise of strengthening the sector.
He submitted that "politically influential persons overnight float cooperative sugar factories" by contributing pittance and rest of the funds are either collected from the public or from public funds - mostly by way of loans from cooperative banks with state guarantee. Kulkarni alleged that political personalities had bought 75% cooperative sugar factories to the verge of bankruptcy.
Chief justice Mohit Shan and justice SJ Vazifdar granted the additional government pleader time until May 2 to respond to the allegations.