Madurai

Farmers rattled by underweight potash bags

Instead of packing 50 kg potash in every bag, contract labourers pack lesser quantity causing a loss for buyers.

Instead of packing 50 kg potash in every bag, contract labourers pack lesser quantity causing a loss for buyers.

Even as farmers are battling urea shortage despite availability of sufficient water in dams and irrigation tanks, they have been forced to face another threat – that of underweight potash bags.

After being unloaded at VOC Port, Thoothukudi, potash that reaches the harbour in bulk in ships, would be packed in 50 kg bags after being taken to nearby godowns in lorries. Instead of packing 50 kg potash in every bag, the contract labourers pack lesser quantity that causes a loss of 1 kg to 1.250 kg potash for buyers, poor farmers alleged.

“A bag of potash (50 kg) is being sold at ₹1,700 and hence 1 kg of potash costs ₹34. If 30,000 tonnes of potash is received and packed in six lakh bags in this fashion to cause loss to the farmers, the brain behind this scam gets a minimum of ₹2 crore-worth potash to be sold in the black market. Even after wastage, the black marketer will get an unfair profit of one crore rupees even as the farmers are being cheated,” charged a farmer Shaik Mohideen of Vadakarai in Tenkasi.

When a dealer in Tirunelveli district grew suspicious over the weight of each bag even as the potash bags were being unloaded in his shop recently, he weighed the bags randomly and found shortage in more than 90% of the bags.

The representative of the supplying company immediately compensated the loss to the dealer after it was brought to his notice.

As this strategy of profiteering was brought to light in 2012, officials raided godown and shops of a few dealers and cracked whip against the contractors who had been entrusted with the job of packing the fertilizer after the permissible error exceeded the limit of 500 gram per bag.

As per the Packaged Commodities rules, the statistical average of the sample (32 bags) should be equal to or not less than the declared quantity and also no bag should show error in deficiency more than Maximum Permissible Error (Mpe). Thirty-two bags of Potash fertilizer, which were imported and packed by Indian Potash Limited (IPL), were checked for the declared net content of 50 kg.

Agriculture Department officials said the contractors were responsible for this. “While the contractors’ men ensure the right weight of 50 kg whenever the Agriculture Department officials visit the godowns, they take anywhere between 1 kg to 1.250 kg per bag to supply underweight fertilizer bags to the sellers,” they said.

Thoothukudi Collector K. Senthil Raj assured that he would shortly conduct surprise checks at the packing points.


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Printable version | May 27, 2022 2:44:12 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/farmers-rattled-by-underweight-potash-bags/article38274451.ece