A shortage of urea during the crucial crop development phase of wheat in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan has brought the newly elected state governments in direct confrontation with the Centre with both blaming each other for the crisis.
In Madhya Pradesh, chief minister Kamal Nath wrote to the Union government and also held discussions with state officials to smoothen supplies following reports that farmers were standing in queues for hours to get urea from the societies.
“Six-seven days ago, the problem was acute as daily railway rakes carrying fertilisers were less frequent while demand went up because farmers wanted urea after completing second watering of the standing wheat crop. But gradually, the situation is coming back to normal,” said a senior farmers’ leader from Madhya Pradesh.
He said distribution was also problematic because instead of focusing on irrigated parts where demand is usually high, urea was being evenly distributed across the state, which led to shortage in supplies.
In Rajasthan, newly-elected chief minister Ashok Gehlot blamed the central government for the “urea crisis” in the state, alleging that urea racks meant for Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were diverted to Haryana.
He said an “artificial crisis” was created in the states where the Congress governments formed, and the matter was being investigated.
“It seems that urea racks meant for Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were diverted to Haryana and this led to the crisis. It was an artificial crisis created in the states where governments changed,” Gehlot told reporters outside Raj Bhawan.
A resurgent Congress had recently made significant gains in the assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Gehlot said instructions have been given so that such urea crisis is not felt in any of the districts.
Meanwhile, discounting reports of any shortage of urea in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan along with other states, the Union fertiliser ministry said that local distribution of urea is the job of state governments and they are responsible for ensuring supplies only upto the state.
For Madhya Pradesh, the ministry said that 370,000 tonnes was allocated as compared with the state’s requirement of 350,000 tonnes for December. Out of this, about 185,000 tonnes of urea has been sold so far.
In the case of Rajasthan, the total allocation was 289,000 tonnes against the requirement of 270,000 tonnes for the current month.
Of this, 231,000 tonnes of urea has been sold so far.
“In the month of December, urea supplies to both states are ahead of the pro-rata requirement. The internal distribution within the state is the responsibility of the state government,” the ministry said in a statement.
Stating that the government is monitoring the situation closely on a day-to-day basis, the ministry said it is in regular touch with all the states, fertiliser companies and railways to ensure smooth supplies.
“Based on the feedback of state agriculture departments of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the department of fertiliser has requested the Railway Board to accord overriding priority to urea movement for both the states from ports (along with other states) till December 31,” the ministry stated.
At the all-India level, about 3.62 million tonnes of urea have been allocated for supply in the current month to all states. This is higher than the requirement of 3.30 million tonnes.
Of the total allocation, 2.094 million tonnes have already been sold to farmers so far across the country in the current month, it said.
Urea is sold at the government fixed price of Rs 5,360 per tonnes. It is the most commonly used fertiliser because it is highly subsidised.
On an average, the Central government is supplying nearly 100,000 tonnes of urea per day from plants and ports to various states according to allocations, the ministry added.
With regard to domestic production of urea, the ministry said the units are running according to the target and there is sufficient inventory of nearly 1 million tonnes at various ports.
An additional inventory of 1 million tonnes has been lined up and this is expected to arrive in December and January.
The country produces about 24 million tonnes of urea annually and imports about 5-6 million tonnes to meet the deficit.
- 3.62 million tonne (mt) urea allocated for supply to all the states in December, higher than the requirement of 3.3 mt
- 2.09 mt urea has been sold to farmers this month across the country
- Rs 5,360 per tonne The government fixed price at which urea is sold
- 100,000 tonnes: Centre's per day urea supply from plants and ports to various states, according to allocations
- 1 mt inventory at various ports 24 mt India's annual urea production
- 5-6 mt: Country's annual imports to meet the deficit