Smuggling of fertilizers from border districts has been going on without check with the alleged connivance of officials. M I Khan reports.
At a time when Bihar is facing acute shortage of fertilizers, particularly urea, authorities are unaware of rampant smuggling of fertilizers to Nepal and Bangladesh from the border districts of Bihar.
The smuggling came to light when security forces seized hundreds of bags of fertilizers in the last few weeks.
Contrary to the claims made by Bihar Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh and agriculture Production Commissioner A K Sinha that no such thing was happening at the border districts, smuggling of fertilizers continues.
Sashtra Seema Bal forces, deployed along the border with Nepal, seized 3,055 bags of urea, 722 bags of DAP (diammonium phosphate) and 158 bags of other fertilizers between June and the second week of September this year. The SSB seized bags of fertilizers mostly in Araria, East Champaran and Sitamarhi districts.
"Smuggling of fertilizers from border districts has been going on without check with the connivance of concerned officials. Urea tops the list of fertilizers smuggled out, followed by DAP and Potas.
"The bags seized by security forces are just the tip of the iceberg. It may be two to five percent of fertilizers being smuggled to Nepal and Bangladesh from border districts," an SSB official told rediff.com over telephone from the Bihar-Nepal border.
According to SSB officials, the smugglers have changed their modus operandi in recent months. They are no more taking the risk of big consignments, choosing instead to engage groups of organised gangs to transport the bags on bicycles or bullock carts.
Fertilizers are a hot item for smugglers as its demand is high in Nepal and Bangladesh. Smugglers are also taking advantage of the availability of fertilizers at subsidised prices in India, said the official.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, however, had blamed the central government for the shortage, saying that Bihar's share of urea for August was diverted to Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
An official of the agriculture department said that farmers have been protesting against shortage of fertilizers in the last one month.