Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Jun 19, 2004
Industry & Economy
Agri-Biz & Commodities - Fertilisers
As phosphoric acid price shoots up Paswan seeks higher fertiliser subsidy
New Delhi , June 18
THE Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, has sought an additional subsidy of Rs 1,000 crore in the forthcoming Budget to ensure cheaper supply of fertilisers to farmers in country.
This comes in the wake of some countries, which export phosphoric acid to India, increasing prices of the commodity from $356 to $402 a tonne, Mr Paswan said at a press conference here on Friday.
Mr Paswan said a cartel of countries exporting phosphoric acid to India had increased its prices and the Government was still negotiating the prices with the suppliers of phosphoric acid, used in manufacturing DAP fertilisers.
The Minister said the country at present had comfortable stocks of urea at 194 lakh tonnes.
He had asked the manufacturing units to operate beyond 100 per cent capacity for additional production of 25 lakh tonnes to meet the consumption level estimated at 205 lakh tonnes.
"Urea manufacturers are now encouraged, under the new pricing scheme (NPS) to produce urea beyond 100 per cent capacity utilisation under the policy announced by the department of Fertilisers," he said.
In view of the good start of monsoon in some states and pre-monsoon rains in other parts of the country, he said the Department of Fertilisers was taking all necessary steps to ensure easy and timely availability of fertilisers in all states.
Mr Paswan said the Department of Fertilisers had been directed to explore all possible options for revival of sick units such as Hindustan Fertiliser Corporation Ltd (HFCL) in Barauni and Durgapur, Haldia, Sindri, Gorakhpur and Talcher plants of Fertiliser Corporation of India Ltd (FCIL).
As there was no fertiliser plant in Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal even in the private sector, he asked his department to explore the possibility of setting up new urea plants in these states.
The Minister said the usage of alternate feedstock of coal-bed methane for setting up new urea plants will also be examined by the department in consultation with the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
Mr Paswan said the production and consumption of urea was running neck to neck in the country, even though the per capita consumption was very low.
He said India only consumed 102 kg per hectare urea compared to 132 kg in Pakistan, 225 kg in China, and 334 kg in UK.
He said the per capita consumption in developed countries was 144 kg on an average as compared to 400 kg in Japan and 700-800 kg in Germany, while India consumed only 30 kg.
He also said a Grievance Cell has been made operational in his office and grievances pertaining to price, quality and availability of all fertilisers from anywhere in the country will be received for fast redressal.
The Department had also constituted a Fertiliser Advisory Forum. Agriculture Ministers of all states, members of Fertiliser Association of India, chief executives of state marketing federations and two representatives each of farmers and dealers from each state were the members of the forum.
The first national level conference of the Forum will be held in New Delhi shortly, he added.
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