CBI probes agriculture dept officials role in fertilizer scam

Inquiry Finds Diversion May Have Happened For Decades
Chennai: The CBI is investigating the involvement of some state agriculture department officials and the management of Indian Potash Limited (IPL) in the multicrore fertilizer scam,which came to light in Karaikal in 2009.

The agriculture department exposed the large-scale diversion of heavily subsidised potassium chloride to match and fire-cracker industries in Tamil Nadu in September 2009.The case was subsequently handed over to the CBIs Economic Offences Wing (EOW).The EOW has found that some of the industries using the illegally procured potash were more than 20 years old,suggesting that diversion had been happening for decades.

Potassium chloride is imported from countries like Israel by the IPL,a private company designated by the Union agriculture ministry.It is supplied at a subsided rate to marginal farmers.The ministry had been supplying the fertilizer to farmers at a rate of Rs 4,500 per metric tonne,even when the price in the international market was more than Rs 30,000 per metric tonne.The IPL claimed the subsidy from the government after getting a certificate from the agriculture department,saying that the fertilizer had been supplied to farmers.

Unscrupulous elements found a business opportunity and started diverting the fertilizer to matches and fireworks industries.Agriculture

department officials at the block level place the fertilizer requirement order for each block and the chemical is imported as per this requirement.When we checked the supply list of certified fertilizer dealers,we found that many farmers names were fake, a senior CBI officer said.

The inflated fertilizer requirement indicates the involvement of some agriculture department officials,the CBI said.The role of the IPL is also under the scanner as many procedures in import and stock management were allegedly violated.The nexus was so strong that in some cases the fertilizer was sent straight to the industries from Tuticorin.None of these companies had ever purchased the raw material legally.We have records of their purchases for more than 10 years.When a company wants to set up an industry that needs a licence for explosives,its application to the collector must mention where they are going to source their raw materials from.We do not know what these companies had mentioned in their application.All these industries were procuring diverted fertilizer, the official added.

The CBI had arrested four persons,including directors of some industries and dealers in relation to this case.Many got anticipatory bail.In 2008,the state had unearthed a similar scam after they found 3,153 tonnes of potash missing from Chennai port.The potash was diverted to industries in Chennai.This case is being investigated by CB-CID.

Manure Mafia

The government has designated Indian Potash Limited,to import potash and distribute it to farmers at a highly subsidised rate There are no factories manufacturing potassium chloride in India,a key ingredient in matches and fireworks factories The CBI found that none of the factories,caught for diversion of the fertilizers had imported the chemical or bought it from licensed importers This is the third fertilizer scam to hit the state.Smuggling of Chinese fertilizer to Tamil Nadu was detected earlier
-K Praveen Kumar TNN

Thanks: Times of india .


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