In a move aimed at curbing diversion of subsidised fertilisers for industrial uses and ensuring quality, the Centre on Tuesday said that licences of 112 manufacturing units have been cancelled for violating the norms and 30 FIRs have been registered after raids conducted in over 370 plants during last six months.

Out of 370 units located in 15 States, the inspection was conducted in 220 mixture fertiliser units, 130 urea units, 15 SSP fertiliser units and 5 exporters, the Fertiliser Ministry said in a statement. The maximum number of fertiliser units were inspected in Gujarat (92), followed by Kerala (54), Tamil Nadu (40) and Karnataka (39), it said.

Urea diversion

“There is a fertiliser crisis in the world. In such a situation, a 45 kg bag of urea costing approximately ₹2,500 is being sold to farmers ₹266. Strict action will be taken against those engaged in diversion, be it distributors or users or outlets,” Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said.

Though 268 samples were taken from these units, result of 59 samples are awaited. Still, it was found that 89 samples had sub-standard urea. Mandaviya said that licence of 112 has been cancelled as urea diversion was found in 120 units out of 130 inspected manufacturing plants.

Following the surprise inspections, 30 FIRs have been registered for diversion of urea, and 70,000 bags of suspected urea have been seized (from Gujarat, Kerala, Haryana, Rajasthan, Karnataka (excluding GSTN seizure). Out of these, 26,199 bags have been disposed of as per Fertiliser Control Order (FCO) guidelines, the Ministry said.

The central team have also inspected three border districts (Araria, Purnia, West Champaran) of Bihar and 3 FIRs have been filed against urea diverting units while licences of ten units in border districts have been cancelled.

Out of 268 samples tested, of which 89 were declared sub-standard and 120 were found with neem oil content. “For the first time, 11 persons have been jailed under Prevention of Blackmarketing and Maintenance of Supplies (PBM) Act for diversion and black marketing of urea in the last one year,” the Ministry said.

Shortage in sowing

Besides agriculture, urea is also used in many other industries too, like UF resin/glue, plywood, resin, crockery, moulding powder, cattle feed, dairy, industrial mining explosives. Any illegal diversion of this highly subsidised urea meant for the farmers and agriculture for non-agriculture/ industrial purpose by many private entities results in shortage of urea in sowing period, the Ministry said.

“A strict vigil is now being undertaken for ensuring the quality of products as well as licenses. Due to such relentless efforts, there has been an increase in demand for technical grade urea. Due to fewer licenses being issued by States for mixture manufacturing, many of the existing mixture manufacturing units have shifted to selling bio and organic fertilizers, thus promoting natural farming to reduce the consumption of chemical fertilizers,” it said.