Agri Business

Maharashtra unearths huge fertiliser adulteration scam

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on December 21, 2019 Published on December 21, 2019

‘State-wide nexus caused wrongful loss to farmers’

The Maharashtra government has unearthed the large-scale adulteration of complex or mixed fertilisers, which are used for specific crops. These fertilisers caused wrongful gains to the seller syndicate and losses to farmers, it said.

A senior officer, in an affidavit before the Bombay High Court, said that farmers’ suicides have been due to poor yields. One of the reasons for the poor yield was substandard or bogus fertilisers, spurious organic fertilisers and inferior quality insecticide.

The affidavit was filed in September in connection with litigation before the Aurangabad bench.

Complex or mixed fertilisers contain two or more of the elements of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK). They are essential to promote plant growth and higher crop yields. They are obtained by mixing multiple ingredients either manually or mechanically.

However, companies resorting to adulteration mix fly ash, grit and other adulterants to increase the weight and gold plate their profits.

A senior Maharashtra government official told BusinessLine that the affidavit has been filed before the Bombay High Court by the Divisional Commissioner of Aurangabad, Sunil Kendrekar, after samples taken by the Agriculture Department revealed that they were not compliant with the quality standards prescribed by the Centre.

A white-collar crime

A copy of the affidavit, reviewed by BusinessLine, startlingly reads that it is nothing but a white-collar crime syndicate run for wrongful gains.

Kendrekar, through the affidavit, also pointed out that the companies that manufactured bogus fertilisers, not only violated the Fertiliser Control Order and Essential Commodities Act but would also face provisions of the Indian Penal Code.

Kendrekar has said that considering the facts of such adulteration, no relief should be granted against the persons running such syndicates as they committed crimes against the most vulnerable sections of the society.

Due to the action by the State Government against seven units in the Latur and Nanded regions of Aurangabad, mixed fertiliser production, which was 59,188 tonnes in 2016-17 has fallen to 21,585 tonnes in 2019-20.

Former Chairman and Managing Director of Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers Ltd (RCF) US Jha told BusinessLine that the issue of quality and adulteration does not arise when the fertilisers are made in established companies such as RCF and other majors.

Quality issues crop up when standalone fertilisers are added in a particular quantity to produce mixed or complex fertilisers. But such sub-standard fertilisers affect crop yield, he said.

State governments must be vigilant to such problems, Jha added.

Despite repeated attempts to reach him, Kendrekar was not available for comments.

Published on December 21, 2019
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