Mumbai: Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan said that Centre is taking various steps to help the Sugar Industry which is facing depressed market sentiments and crash in sugar prices, the liquidity position of sugar mills has been adversely affected, leading to accumulation of cane price dues of farmers which have reached to more than Rs 19,000 crore. Central Cabinet has approved financial assistance of Rs. 5.50 per quintal of cane crushed in sugar season 2017-18 to sugar mills to offset the cost of cane, in order to help sugar mills to clear dues of farmers. Further, to facilitate and incentivize export of surplus sugar by sugar mills, Government has allowed Duty-Free Import Authorization (DFIA) Scheme in respect of sugar. He was addressing a press conference in Mumbai on Saturday.

Paswan informed that the Centre has decided to provide 15 kgs of grain per month per student at below poverty line (BPL) rates to hostels for SC, ST, OBC and minority communities. This will be applicable to the students including General category hostels where 2/3 students are from SC, ST, OBC and Minority communities.

On SC/ST Act the minister said that the NDA government will not dilute the Act. In a high-power committee, it was decided to keep SC/ST Act intact. The NDA government has filed a review petition in Supreme Court and if required may even bring an ordinance.

Paswan applauds Government of Maharashtra for its good work as far as Aadhar is concerned as due to 88 % seeding, 50 lakh bogus ration cards are eliminated and only genuine beneficiaries are getting the ration. He also said that in Maharashtra all the ration shops are equipped with Point of Sale (POS) machines which have facilitated the beneficiaries to purchase ration from any ration shop.

The minister also informed the recent initiatives of Food Corporation of India (Maharashtra Region), such as the implementation of an online system for all its own depots, installation of CCTV cameras, the functional SILO (storage for grain) at Panvel and another upcoming one at Borivali which has a capacity to store 50,000 MTs each