People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 09

February 28, 2010

Withdraw Anti-Farmer Move, Organisations Demand

THROUGH a statement issued from New Delhi on February 18, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) castigated the UPA government’s “yet another anti-farmer measure” to increase the urea prices by 10 per cent and ease the controls over other fertilisers. The AIKS noted that the prices of some of the fertilisers have been decontrolled, thereby allowing manufacturers to fix the rates of DAP and MOP fertilisers. This, the AIKS said, is a serious attack on the interests of the farmers who are already facing an acute agrarian crisis and are in great distress. Even as suicides by farmers have crossed the two lakh mark, the Congress-led UPA government has come with a move that will only further burden the farmers. It is to be noted that this move by the Congress-led government is coming in the context of an unprecedented drought followed by floods in large parts of the country in quick succession. This has already led to a drastic reduction in the acreage and output of major crops.

The AIKS said the latest move would badly hit the small and marginal farmers who are already finding agriculture unviable and un-remunerative. Already the rural countryside is reeling under skyrocketing prices of essential commodities and falling incomes. The government’s move is clearly aimed at passing the benefits to big players in the fertiliser sector while passing on the burden to the cultivating peasantry. The move would mean an increase of nearly Rs 50 per bag and is bound to adversely impact the production of major crops, especially food grains, and push farmers into further distress. Strongly condemning this anti-farmer move, the All India Kisan Sabha has demanded that the government withdraw the move immediately. The organisation has called upon all its units to rise in protest against this anti-farmer move.

While strongly opposing the government’s decision to increase the urea price by 10 per cent and to deregulate the prices of other fertilisers, the Centre of Indian Trade unions (CITU) has also denounced the Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) scheme for phosphatic and potassic fertilisers.

Issued from New Delhi on February 19, the CITU statement in this regard said the decisions once again exposed the government’s totally insensitive approach and apathy to the plight of the people reeling under the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, mainly the food items. The government has renewed its attempts to deregulate the prices of essential agricultural inputs like fertilisers to allow the manufactures to garner huge profits through sale of their products at global prices under the Import Parity Price (IPP) method, which is most unrealistic and has no link with the actual production cost.

The CITU strongly feels that this decision, coupled with the government’s effort to increase the price of diesel, will destabilise the food security in the country, specially when we are facing severe drought and flood situations in various parts of country and the agricultural productivity has declined. The so-called explanation given in favour of the NBS --- that it will depict the actual demand of the fertilisers in the country and promote their realistic pricing in the internationals market --- is a reprehensible attempt to mislead the people. The CITU says the actual objective of the corporate friendly government is to allow the fertiliser producers to hike the prices of their products to the level of international prices. Deregulation of pricing to attract fresh investment in the fertiliser sector is yet another attempt to disown the responsibility of reviving the closed fertiliser units in the public sector, namely, Durgapur, Haldia (West Bengal), Sindri (Jharkhand), Baruni (Bihar), Talcher (Orissa), Gorakhpur (UP) and Ramagundam (AP) through public investment. This is thus a move to guarantee windfall profits to private players.

The CITU has therefore urged the government to withdraw the disastrous decision forthwith and declare (a) regulation of prices for all types of fertilisers in order to achieve self-sufficiency in fertiliser production and thereby ensure food security in the country and (b) time bound commitment to revive the closed public sector fertiliser units.