People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 07, 2007
UREA SHORTAGE IN STATES
CITU Demands Revival Of Fertiliser Units
THE Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) expresses its serious concern on the acute shortage of urea in the country specifically in states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and others. The CITU had anticipated the present crisis, when it vehemently opposed the previous NDA government’s decision in 2002 to close down seven urea producing fertiliser units, totaling a production capacity of 20 lakh tonnes, leading to the present shortfall in indigenous production and growing dependence on imported fertiliser.
The then NDA government was harping on cheaper imported urea costing 80 dollars per tonne at that time and the government was justifying the closure on the plea that the production cost of these units viz. Sindri (Jharkhand), Barauni (Bihar), Gorakhpur (UP), Durgapur and Haldia (W Bengal), Talcher (Orissa), and Ramagundam (AP) would be much higher vis-à-vis import. Today the government is importing urea at a cost ranging between 260 to 280 US $ per ton, which is higher than that of the production cost envisaged after revival. While government had imported 20 lakhs tonnes of urea in 2005-06, it is likely to import 50 lakh MT during the current year.
In view of the present crisis caused due to the suicidal policy of over dependence on import, CITU reiterates its demand for revival of these fertiliser units on a fast track basis.
The CITU condemns the lackadaisical approach of the UPA government to revive these units during the last two half years, on the plea of non-availability of gas and non-viability of naphtha/coal as feedstock. In a stark contrast the UPA government had acted with overzeal in reviving sick Dabhol power plant of Enron infamy first with naphtha and then with LNG, on pressure from U.S government.
The CITU calls upon the UPA government to take immediate steps to make urea available to the farmers and to take up the revival of the fertiliser units with naphtha/LNG/natural gas. The CITU further cautions the government that similar scenario may emerge in power sector, if the country depends on the imported uranium for running nuclear power plants. International cost of uranium would also go high, leading to escalation in cost of power, another major input to the farmers.