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Govt cracks down on diversion of subsidised urea

Grappling with a disrupted supply due to the Russia-Ukraine war, the Department of Fertilizers (DoF) has launched a multipronged nationwide crackdown on diversion, hoarding and black marketing of fertilizers meant for farmers.

With its new special teams, such as the ‘Fertilizers Flying Squad’, the department has, since May, unearthed several cases where highly subsidised urea was diverted to private industrial units.

An DoF source told The Indian Express The department began its crackdown by identifying and locating 52 units across six states that were “supposedly involved in diversion of urea”.

During “covert operations” launched simultaneously at all six locations on May 20, the source said DoF officials found the units had “illegally” procured agriculture grade urea packed in industrial-grade bags.

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Unfair means

Agriculture-grade urea is a costly fertilizer. A 45-kg bag costs around Rs 3,000 in the open market. The government, however, gives it to farmers at a subsidised rate of Rs 266. It is this cost difference that many private units seek to exploit by diverting the fertilizer from distribution agencies.

Situated in Haryana, Kerala, Rajasthan, Telangana, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, these units deal in UF resin/glue, plywood, cattle feed, and crockery/ molding power, the source said.

“By the end of the day, unauthorized urea stock of 7,400 bags was seized at different units… In total 7 FIRs/ complaints have been registered against units involved in illegal activities,” the source said.

Separately, the department also identified major suppliers of industrial-grade urea and detected CGST evasion of Rs 63.43 crore. The DoF shared the details of the units with the GST department and Rs 5.14 crore has been recovered so far, the source said.

“Unaccounted stock of agriculture-grade urea… around 25,000 bags … has also been detected,” the source said, adding six persons have also been arrested under the CGST Act, 2017 and remanded in judicial custody.

Meanwhile, other sources in DoF reiterated the country will not face any shortage of fertilizers during the kharif season.

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