An agro-industrial economy like that of India with her emphasis on socio-economic change has a vast scope for the organisation and development of co-operative activity. The lead in this behalf is provided for by the Co-operation Department of the Government. The activities of the Co-operation Department extend to the fields of rural finance, agricultural marketing, industrial co-operatives and money-lending business in the district. All these activities are governed under the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, 1961, the Bombay Money-lending Act and the Agricultural Produce Market Committees Act.

Organisation: Since the inception of the Zilla Parishad, co-operation has come under the dual control of the Zilla Parishad and the State Government. The Co-operation Department of the Zilla Parishad is responsible for organisation, registration, supervision and inspection of all types of co-operative societies in rural areas having authorised share-capital up to Rs. 50,000 or working capital up to Rs. 5,00,000. It has also to control and supervise all regulated markets (i.e., agricultural produce market committees). All other schemes are looked after by the department in the State sector.

The Commissioner for Co-operation and Registrar of Co-operative Societies, Maharashtra State, Pune, is the head of the department at State level. At the divisional level, there is a Divisional Joint Registrar assisted by the Divisional Deputy Registrar and three Divisional Assistant Registrars. Divisional Special Auditors, Co-operative Societies and District Special Auditor, Co-operative Societies, are in charge of audit section at divisional and district level, respectively.

In the State sector, Ahmadnagar district is placed in charge of the District Deputy Registrar, Co-operative Societies, Ahmadnagar. He is assisted by two Assistant Registrars whose jurisdiction extends over an area specified by the District Deputy Registrar, Co-operative Societies, Ahmadnagar, after taking into consideration the work-load. In addition to this Assistant Registrars for Land Development Bank are appointed exclusively for the general supervision, inspection of Land Development Bank and also for effecting recoveries of short-term, medium-term and long-term loans advanced by the District Central Co-operative Bank and the Land Development Bank. For this purpose Special Recovery Officers from this department and Revenue department are appointed. Under the control of the regular Assistant Registrars, there are Co-operative Officers, Assistant Co-operative Officers for housing, farming, lift irrigation, salary-earners, etc. The Assistant Registrars enjoy all powers delegated to them under the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, 1960. They also work as Assistant Registrar of Money-lenders for their respective jurisdictions. Since the formation of Zilla Parishad one of these Assistant Registrars has been transferred to the Zilla Parishad. He works as Co-operation and Industries Officer and is directly responsible to the Chief Executive Officer, Zilla Parishad. Some of the powers of the regular Assistant Registrar are delegated to him such as registration of new societies, amendment to bye-laws of certain types of societies coming within the purview of Zilla Parishad, etc. He has also to work on the co-operation committee of the Zilla Parishad. The Co-operation and Industries Officer, Zilla Parishad is assisted by the Block Development Officer and Extension Officer (Co-operation) at block level. The Assistant Registrars, Co-operative Officers and Assistant Co-operative Officers in the State sector are appointed by the Registrar, Co-operative Societies, Maharashtra State, Pune, and Divisional Joint Registrar, Pune. The main responsibility of the supervising staff is confined to detailed supervision over the working of all agricultural credit societies including multi-purpose societies in the district. They are expected to supervise every society in their charge. There are in all thirty supervisors in the district who are appointed by the District Deputy Registrar, Co-operative Societies, Ahmadnagar. They are placed under the general control of the respective Assistant Registrars.

Supervisory staff: In pursuance of the policy of democratic decentralisation, supervising unions at 13 blocks have been organised. The services of the supervisors are utilised for general supervision over the working of the primary agricultural credit societies and also inspection of the affiliated primary societies of the concerned supervising unions. The supervisors and additional supervisors visit and inspect societies, in their charge, according to the inspection programme prepared quarterly. They also attend to the work of submission of normal credit statements and preparation of loan applications with the help of group secretaries of the societies, who work under supervising unions and under the administrative supervision of supervisors and additional supervisors. As far as inspection and supervision over the agricultural primaries is concerned, the Central Financing Agency has also its own staff of Inspectors. The work of recoveries of societies' dues from members and bank's dues from societies is also looked after and pursued by the above staff of the Bank, though primary responsibility for effecting recovery is of the elected managing committee of the primary societies and the secretaries.

District Supervision Committee: The District Supervision Committee is an ad hoc committee which has taken up the work regarding allotment of work to supervising unions. It works as a link between the Taluka Co-operative Supervising Union and the District Cooperative Board and the State Co-operative Board. Education and training in co-operation and propaganda for the co-operative movement are carried out by the District Co-operative Board under the guidance of the Maharashtra State Co-operative Union, Bombay. The membership of the District Co-operative Board is of two classes, viz., societies and individuals. It has a total membership of 512 During the year 1968-69 the Board conducted short-term training classes for secretaries and members of the managing committees of the primary agricultural credit societies.

Auditing: As per the provision made under section 81 of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, 1960, statutory audit of every society atleast once in a year is done by the Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Maharashtra State, or by any officer authorised by him. In the district, it is a primary responsibility of the District Special Auditor, Co-operative Societies, to take statutory audit of co-operative societies atleast once in a year. Apart from this, special auditors have also been appointed for continuous and concurrent audit of sugar factories and co-operative banks.

Since the formation of the Zilla Parishad the work regarding organisation of primary industrial co-operative societies has been transferred to it and the Extension Officers working under the Block Development Officers look after this work. The services of Industrial Supervisors are also placed at their disposal.

The Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act of 1960 provides that all disputes touching the constitution, election of officers, conduct of business and management of societies shall be referred to the Registrar. Accordingly, the District Deputy Registrar and Assistant Registrars act as arbitrators for deciding the disputes in the district referred to them. Under the Act, the Divisional Joint Registrar is empowered to appoint persons to work as Registrar's nominees to whom the disputes can be referred for decision, in case the District Deputy Registrar or Assistant Registrar is not in a position to decide the dispute. All these officers are selected from legal practitioners of good standing. The powers regarding the award of decision in the disputes are exercised by the Assistant Registrars in the department, concurrently with the District Deputy Registrar and Divisional Joint Registrar for all societies of which the head-quarters are in their jurisdiction.

The Co-operation and Industries Officer of the Zilla Parishad who works as the secretary of the co-operation and industries committee of the Zilla Parishad heads the department at the district level. He is assisted by the necessary staff.

Money-lending: The salient features of the Bombay Money-lending Act are licensing of money-lenders, maintenance of accounts of money-lenders in the prescribed forms and registers and restrictions on the rates of interest. The Assistant Registrar, Co-operative Societies, works as Assistant Registrar of Money-lenders in his respective jurisdiction, while the District Deputy Registrar, Co-operative Societies, works as Registrar of Money-lenders in the district and issues licences to money-lenders and is responsible for the administration of Bombay Money-lending Act. The Co-operative Officers have to work in dual capacity both as Co-operative Officers and Inspectors of Money-lenders.

The co-operative movement in Ahmadnagar district has developed on progressive lines. The Maharashtra State Co-operative Union Ltd. Bombay, has established a regional co-operative school at Ahmadnagar. It imparts training in co-operation to the employees of the co-operative societies as well as employees of the Co-operation Department.

The Nagar District Purchase and Sale Union Ltd., Ahmadnagar is a marketing society at the district level. It channelises distribution of fertilisers, iron, steel and cement. It receives fertilisers and manure-mixtures from Government on consignment basis and supplies these to the cultivators through taluka purchase and sale unions and primary agricultural credit societies. There are in all 14 district and taluka purchase and sale unions in the district. The membership of these unions stood at 74,748 and their share-capital, reserve and other funds, working capital at Rs. 24,73,556, Rs. 40,40,386 and Rs. 1,32,11,366 respectively, during 1968-69.

Banking and credit facilities to co-operative societies in Ahmadnagar district are provided mainly by Ahmadnagar District Central Co-operative Bank. The credit facilities especially for industrial cooperative societies are provided by the Ahmadnagar District Central Urban Bank Ltd., Ahmadnagar. Similarly long-term loans are sanctioned to cultivators for agricultural purposes through Ahmadnagar District Co-operative Land Development Bank Ltd., Ahmadnagar. The Nagar District Central Co-operative Bank and Nagar Urban Co-operative Bank undertake banking business in addition to their normal functions as specified in their bye-laws. The Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank channelises the funds received from the Reserve Bank of India to the Central Financing Agencies. The Nagar District Central Cooperative Bank makes credit facilities available to agriculturists through primary agricultural credit societies. The total membership of the District Central Co-operative Bank stands at 3,212, out of whom 1,444 were society-members during 1971-72. The total paid-up shares capital of the Central Financing Agency was Rs. 2,60,76,000. The total working capital, reserve and other funds of the Ahmadnagar District Central Co-operative Bank stood at Rs. 27,42,35,000 and Rs. 1,49,45,000, respectively, in the year 1971-72. The audit classification of the Bank is " A" and it runs 68 branches throughout the district.

During 1971-72, there were 1,090 primary agricultural credit societies in the district. The total membership of these societies was 2,20,598. The paid-up share-capital, reserve and other funds amounted to Rs. 5,79,68,653 and Rs. 1,57,88,554, respectively. The working capital of these societies stood at Rs. 24,26,97,169. These societies advanced short-term and medium-term loans for agricultural purpose to the tune of Rs. 14,64,44,525 as against the recoveries which amounted to Rs. 13,73,27,660. The total loans outstanding amounted to Rs. 18,41,70,403.

There were three fisheries societies during 1971-72. The total membership of these societies was 252. The paid-up share-capital was Rs. 12,480 and the working capital was Rs. 14,311. There were 23 dairy societies in the district. The working of these societies is regulated by the federation of these societies. With the introduction of Government Milk Scheme in Ahmadnagar district attempts are made to organise these societies but most of the societies remained dormant, for want of technical guidance, lack of finance, etc. The membership of these societies as on 30th June 1969 was 2,689 and their share-capital, reserve and other funds and working capital were Rs. 1,15,875, Rs. 1,00,972 and Rs. 7,37,323, respectively. During the year 1968-69 these societies purchased 10,31,354 litres of milk valued at Rs. 10,68,041.

Pioneering work in respect of agricultural co-operative processing societies was realised with the establishment of eight co-operative sugar factories in the district in addition to the three cotton and ginning and pressing societies, two co-operative spinning mills, one tomato processing society, one rice mill, three co-operative oil mills and one co-operative gur-khandsari society. The total membership of sugar factories was 25,419. Their total paid-up share-capital, reserve and other funds and working capital amounted to Rs. 43,178, Rs. 69,184 and Rs. 2,67,877 (in thousands), respectively. The quantity of sugarcane crushed and sugar produced by these factories were 1,93,18,422 and 21,41,089 quintals, respectively, during 1968-69.

There were 132 co-operative housing societies during 1971-72. The total membership of these societies was 5,071. Their share-capital, reserve and other funds and working capital amounted to Rs. 9,31,358, Rs. 10,056 and Rs. 44,58,222, respectively.

In the district, as on 30th June 1969, there were one wholesale and 24 primary co-operative consumers' stores. In addition the work regarding distribution of consumers' goods in rural areas was undertaken by the marketing societies. For distribution of rationed articles in rural areas, fair price shops were also allotted to the primary agricultural credit societies at village level. The total membership of co-operative consumers' stores during 1971-72 was 14,201. Their share-capital, reserve and other funds, and working capital during the same period stood at Rs. 7,49,421, Rs. 3,74,069 and Rs. 19,79,150, respectively.

During 1971-72 there were 44 co-operative farming societies in the district. Their total membership was 1,207 and their paid-up share-capital, reserve and other funds and working capital were Rs. 2,24,745. Rs. 2,29,696 and Rs. 17,93,129, respectively.