Mumbai: A GST notice sent to Vaijanath Sugar Mill, owned by Pankaja Munde, is likely to become a political issue in Maharashtra. While publicly expressing displeasure over the issue, Munde said that all other sugar mills in the state, except Vaijanath, have received help from the center. The opposition tried to exploit the issue, with MPCC Chief Nana Patole accusing the agencies of a partisan approach. Meanwhile, State BJP Chief Chandrashekar Bawankule attempted to downplay the issue, stating that such notices are common administrative matters, and if there is no wrongdoing, they should be properly responded to in order to have them withdrawn.
Raids by GST department
The GST department had raided Vaijanath Cooperative Sugar Mill about six months ago. Documents collected during the raid revealed that the mill had not paid GST worth Rs. 19 crore. Additionally, the mill had taken a loan of Rs. 1,200 crore from Union Bank, which had initiated proceedings to attach the property since the loan was never repaid.
While the mill has been sealed by the bank, the GST department has issued the notice. This prompted Pankaja Munde to raise the issue while speaking to the media during her visit to Pune on Monday.
"The mill had been in complete loss due to droughts for 7-8 years. The bank has attached it and is in the process of liquidation. The figures are inflated. No wrongdoing was done, and the figures pertain only to interest," Pankaja said.
"During the drought, we paid all the dues of the farmers. This led to a condition the following year where we were left with no money to run it. The drought, coupled with the financial condition, led to this situation. There were a few other mills in a similar condition. All of them approached the central government, and everyone except me was granted some form of help. If I had also received help, this situation today might have been avoided," she added, directly blaming the Central government.
When asked whether she feels sidelined in the BJP, she said, "I'm not so insignificant that I can be easily brushed aside."
She also emphasized that it's not just about who operates the mill but also about the impact on the local community and the regional economy. "I had suggested that if the government were to run 1000 such units, it would support a significant population. However, I don't want to discuss what happened to my suggestion."