Dealers` association lays blame for fertilizer scarcity on Director

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IMPHAL, August 22: The state Agriculture Minister and the Chief Minister’s failure to redress the issues of the Agriculture department arising out of its officials performing their duties at their own whims has led to artificial fertilizer shortage in the state.       

The promises made during the recently concluded Manipur Legislative Assembly session by government representatives to provide fertilizers to farmers at a subsidized rate has only turned out to be broken promises.  

During this Kharif season, Urea bags have sold for Rs 500 to 700 per bag.

Nevertheless, farmers who are willing to pay the quoted price and buy the fertilizer are unable to do so due to shortage of stock, sources said.

On getting information about the complaints of the farmers, IFP conducted an investigation into the matter to find the root cause.

It was found that a registered body namely, All Manipur Fertilizer Dealers’ Welfare Association (AMFDWA) had been bringing fertilizers into the state for the past around 20 years.

However, according to the AMFDWA members, since last year, the Director of Agriculture had assigned the work of bringing the fertilizers into the state to some individuals who are close to him.

The selected individuals were provided with the subsidy from the government and started working since last year, the members said.

Subsequently, the All Manipur Fertilizer Dealers’ Welfare Association approached the Director with an appeal to provide the subsidy to the association so that they can also provide fertilizers to the farmers at subsidised rate and also abundantly.

The association also submitted a written representation (vide R/R No116 of 19/7/2013) to Agriculture Minister Md Nasir on July 19, 2012 in regard to the issue.

Failing to get any response from the Agriculture Minister, the association submitted a written representation (vide CM’s Secretariat R/R No 517 of 6/8/2012) to Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh on August 6, 2012.

However, after failing to get any response from both the CM and the concerned ministers, the association again submitted a written representation to the Commissioner of Agriculture on March 27, 2013.

The association on April 3, 2013 announced before the media at Manipur Press Club that they would stop their services of bringing in fertilizers into the state as the state government had failed to pay their subsidy.

The association further filed a petition at the High Court of Manipur which is still pending at the court.

Meanwhile, the President of the association, Yumnam Iboyaima Singh, a resident of Yairipok Top Chingtha has raised several questions to the state Agriculture department  under the RTI Act .

Yumnam Iboyaima in his RTI questioned, “Is the Director of Agriculture, Govt of Manipur, a wholesale authorised dealer of the Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizer Corporation Ltd, Namrup, Dibrugarh district in Assam?”

“If the Director of Agriculture is a wholesale dealer of the said corporation then kindly supply documents with regard to the area of operation (district/ districts/sub-districts) of the Director of Agriculture’s office and the dealership code along with the date of effect of such dealership. Kindly furnish the copy of the agreement/deed executed between the cooperation and the Director of Agriculture department, Govt of Manipur.”

“Does the Director of Agriculture, Govt of Manipur, have any kind of licence for fertilizer”, it demanded and further sought “information with regard to the exact quantity of Urea lifted by the Agriculture Department in Kharif season in 2012”.

The RTI application has further sought information with regard to the quantity which were sold/distributed district wise during the period April 1, 2012 to September 30, 2012 and the present stock of fertilizers in Manipur/Agriculture department, Govt of Manipur.”

“Information with regard to the selling price, the subsidy given per bag to Govt dealers and how much fertilizers sold at subsidised rate during the period April 1, 2012 to September 30, 2012.”

However, on getting no reply of the RTI, he made the first appeal on June 10, 2013, even then replies are awaited, informed the source.

Even though the association had announced to stop transportation of fertilizers into the state since April 3, 2013, it has resumed services from this month onwards fearing cancellation of their licences but brought in only minimal quantity of fertilizers, the source said.

Meanwhile, the members of All Manipur Fertilizer Dealers’ Welfare Association have put the blame on the Agriculture Director Shamu Kabui and his officialsfor the scarcity of fertilizers.

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