Fer­tiliser-Aad­haar link: Farm­ers fear red tape, black sale

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - PUNJAB - Gurpreet Singh Nibber gurpreet.nibber@hin­dus­tan­times.com

CHANDI­GARH: Farm­ers in Pun­jab have a new worry. Manda­tory point-of-sale (POS) ma­chines through which fer­tilis­ers will be sold from De­cem­ber 1 man­date link­ing of all trans­ac­tions with Aad­haar num­bers of farm­ers who make the pur­chase. This means more red tape and black mar­ke­teer­ing at jacked-up prices, fear farm­ers, even as the Union gov­ern­ment in­sists the Aad­haar link will check pil­fer­age of the sub­sidised fer­tilis­ers.

“We don’t know how things will work in the com­ing rabi sea­son,” said Bal­bir Singh Rajewal, pres­i­dent of a fac­tion of the Bhar­tiya Kisan, “With so much pa­per work now, deal­ers will ha­rass farm­ers and it will lead to sale in the black mar­ket.”

The Union agri­cul­ture min­istry man­dated these ma­chines as in­dus­trial units ap­par­ently take away large amounts of urea with their staff pos­ing as farm­ers. This fer­tiliser is then smug­gled to Nepal and Bangladesh. Ev­ery year, Pun­jab is the lead­ing con­sumer of fer­tiliser in In­dia — 25 lakh tonnes of urea and 8 lakh tonnes of DAP.

De­spite re­luc­tance of deal­ers and farm­ers, the ma­chines have been in­stalled at 90% sales points, in­clud­ing 3,500 co­op­er­a­tive so­ci­eties, say of­fi­cials. In all, 8,870 POS ma­chines are to be in­stalled.

“Farmer is al­ready pass­ing through a tough phase of fi­nan­cial crunch. Such norms will make the vo­ca­tion very tough in the cur­rent sce­nario,” Rajewal said.

ONLY THE FIRST STEP

Sources in the state gov­ern­ment, how­ever, said the Cen­tre is work­ing on a long-term pol­icy of a three-tier sys­tem for sale of fer­tilis­ers — Aad­haar is the first stage — to know who’s buy­ing the fer­tiliser. Next, land record will be checked to know where the fer­tiliser is used, and then the soil card will be cross­checked to see if the field ac­tu­ally needs the fer­tiliser or not.

State chief fer­tiliser in­spec­tor Gur­jeet Singh Brar told HT that the farm­ers’ con­cern is gen­uine, but the fer­tiliser dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem will be “as smooth as al­ways, even with the POS ma­chines”. It will rather check pil­fer­age and would turn out ben­e­fi­cial, he added.

DBT TO COME?

There is also some mulling over di­rect ben­e­fit trans­fer (DBT) of the sub­sidy into bank ac­counts of farm­ers two months af­ter the pur­chase, said sources. “But the dif­fer­ence be­tween ac­tual price of fer­tiliser and the sub­sidised rates is huge, so farm­ers can’t pay the ac­tual cost,” said Nek Singh Khokh, a progressive farmer from Nabha.

An of­fi­cer of the state agri­cul­ture direc­torate agreed that such a sys­tem will mean “huge bur­den” on farm­ers. “But it’s not com­ing in the near fu­ture. It re­quires a lot of prepa­ra­tion,” the of­fi­cer said.

With so much pa­per work now, deal­ers will ha­rass farm­ers and it will lead to sale in the black mar­ket... Farm­ers are al­ready in a tough phase. BAL­BIR SINGH RAJEWAL, BKU leader

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