Sack Alagiri: Jaya
FRIDAY, 25 JANUARY 2013 00:37
KUMAR CHELLAPPAN | CHENNAI
After the 2G scam, coalgate and Commonwealth Games scam, it is the turn of fertiliser scam which has come to haunt the UPA Government. The main protagonist of the Rs1,000-crore scam is MK Alagiri, Union Fertilisers Minister and son of M Karunanidhi, the DMK chief.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Thursday demanded the immediate sacking of Alagiri from the Union Cabinet on charges of a fertiliser scam worth Rs1,000 crore. She also wanted a CBI inquiry into the scam in which fertiliser manufacturers have made a windfall in the sale of nutrient-based fertilisers by exploiting farmers across the country.
In a statement released to the media, Jayalalithaa pointed out that the nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) scheme introduced in April 2010 by the UPA Government has only helped the fertiliser manufacturers to make huge profits at the cost of poor farmers.
She said though the Minister of State Srikant Jena had written to Alagiri last year itself, that fertiliser manufacturers were making Rs5,000 on every tonne of di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) and Rs6,000 on every tonne of muriate of potash sold in the country, the latter just ignored the letter.
This resulted in farmers being forced to pay exorbitant prices for DAP and muriate of potash, both imported fertilisers. Jayalalithaa has put Alagiri in a tight spot by recounting a media report in which the Union Minister told reporters to go and ask the Prime Minister when he was asked about the unviability of NBS scheme.
Jayalalithaa reminded the Prime Minister that she had written to him in June 2012 itself about the difficulties faced by the farmers because of the NBS scheme. “The introduction of the NBS scheme by the Government of India from 1st April, 2010, coupled with an unreliable supply of fertilisers to the State is indeed threatening to deprive our farmers of their basic means of sustenance and livelihood. With the introduction of the NBS policy, liberty has been given to the manufacturers/importers of chemical fertilisers to fix the Maximum Retail Price on their cost of production/import. Since then, these fertiliser companies have been hiking the retail price at will, causing extreme hardship to farmers. Consequently, the prices of various fertilisers have gone up two to three times after the introduction of the NBS policy. The increase has been particularly steep since April, 2012. To cite a few examples, between April 17, 2012, and June 18, 2012, the MRP of a 50 kg bag of DAP and MOP marketed by Indian Potash Limited has increased from Rs910 to Rs1,200, and Rs680 to Rs840 respectively. The rate of a 50 kg bag of DAP (IPL) has gone up to Rs1,200 from Rs486.20 (an increase of 247%), a 50 kg bag of MOP (IPL) now costs Rs840 as against Rs231.66 (an increase of 363%), the rate of a 50 kg bag of complex 10:26:26 (IFFCO) has increased to Rs1,110 from Rs374.24 (an increase of 297%) and the rate of a 50 kg bag of complex 20:20:0:13 (Greenstar) has increased to Rs858.76 from Rs327.40 (an increase of 262%) since 2010,” Jayalalithaa has written in the letter dated June 26, 2012 to the Prime Minister.
She had pointed out that, the Department of Fertilisers, GOI, reduced the subsidy for 2012-2013 for DAP to Rs14,350 per tonne from Rs19,763 per tonne fixed in 2011, and for MOP to Rs14,400 per tonne as against Rs16,054 per tonne. I understand that the Department of Fertiliser has also proposed a hike of another 10 per cent in urea prices and has also planned to cut subsidies further on the pretext of subsidising bio-fertilisers. Faced with a steep price rise and having to digest a sharp reduction in subsidy, our farmers have been hit hard in terms of economic returns from farming. I have tried to mitigate the blow delivered by the Central Government and protect our farmers’ interests by waiving the levy of 4 per cent VAT on the sale of fertilisers,” she wrote.
Jayalalithaa had also wanted the Union Government to withdraw the NBS policy and reintroduce the fixed MRP policy for all fertilisers. “Otherwise a situation will emerge wherein farming will become absolutely unremunerative, resulting in large tracts of land being left uncultivated,” she had said .
Kattumannarkoil Kannan, a farmer from Cuddalore district, said farmers were forced to cough up high prices for DAP and MOP. “The sad fact was that these fertilisers disappeared from the market when they were needed badly. The Union Government failed miserably in making these faertilisers available to the farmers,” he said.
Alagiri has been in the news recently many times, all for unpleasant reasons. His son Durai Dayanidhi was on the run following his role in illegal quarrying of granites and marbles in Madurai district. Dayanidhi had to go underground to save himself from a non-bailable warrant issued against him by a Madurai magistrate. But the Madras High Court came to his help by allowing an anticipatory bail petition though with conditions. Alagiri also lost the race for the control of the DMK with father Karunanidhi openly announcing that Stalin, his second son, would be his successor.