fertilizer

Sushanta Roy is a journalist in the north eastern states of Assam and Meghalaya, India, who photographs and writes about the people, animals and flora, and the things that affect them.

Diphu December 21: Last month, Khatkati police discovered and seized 80 50kg bags of government-subsidized fertilizer in a Manipur bound truck. The discovery was made over national highway 39 near the Assam-Nagaland border. Now a court has obligated both police and Karbi Anglong district administration to thoroughly investigate the issue because this may be only the tip of the iceberg.

According to the police report, the officer on duty at the check gate stopped the fertilizer laden truck number MN-01-6171 around 8.30 PM. While reviewing the transit document ( challan) it was detected that the paper bore the seal and signature of the Nagaland authority, even though the truck did not pass through that gate. The document was not sealed nor signed by the Assam Sales Tax check gate at Bokajan. In addition, the top of the paper showed that the goods were dispatched from Guwahati and destined for Imphal but the Driver of the vehicle claimed that the quantity of fertilizer have been picked up from a local warehouse in Bokajan owned by one Akshai Kumar Jaiswal.

The truck and the goods were taken into police custody becaise it was a suspected attempt of smuggling government subsidized fertilizer beyond its designated area. Khatkati police subsequently filed a case in Diphu court (GR case no 925/16 under section 411/420 of IPC vide Khatkati police case no 118/16).

Justice Naba Kumar Deka Barua considering the cognizance of the case ordered the District Agriculture Officer, Karbi Anglong, Diphu to file a detailed report on November 22, 2016 mentioning the quantity of various categories and quantity of subsidized fertilizer procured by the dealer and his process of distribution among the farmers who are entitled to receive government subsidy.

In the reply furnished by Mr. Mohesh Rajbonshi , the District Agriculture Officer, some shocking facts were revealed. The officer said that his office has no record as to whom the subsidized fertilizer should be sold. He also mentioned that Akshai Kumar Jaiswal obtained his dealership registration (no 1124, dared 08/3/2011) from Director of Agriculture, Assam, Khanapara, Guwahati 22. His report clearly showed that in every category of fertilizer, the government contributes a subsidy ranging from Rs.617.30 to Rs. 548.70 (per bag of 50 KG).

Akshai Kumar Jaiswal whose farm is suspected to be involved in illegal trade has procured 13257.4 metric tons of assorted subsided fertilizer from the government approved depot and has sold 10970.2 metric tons fertilizer over a 5 year period, from April 2012 to August 2016. According to the dealers statement the government spent approximately Rs. 5,228,836.128 against the distributed fertilizer from its exchequer.

The alarming fact which is suspected both by the police and the court is that the concerned department doesn’t maintain any list of beneficiaries or the actual names of the farmers who should receive subsidized fertilizer nor the dealer; it is also not clear whether the dealer has a mandatory condition on his dealership registration like the material should be sold only to the particular farmers, whether there is any restriction of area, whether he can sell it for industrial use ( like tea gardens or ply wood factory etc) in other states such as Nagaland and Manipur.

It is hard to believe that the essential substance for agricultural based economy of Assam does not have any control over its sale or distribution. A question also arises if in a small town like Bokajan a single dealer can accumulate such a huge quantity of government subsidised material, it could be beyond anybody’s imagination the actual mammoth dimension of the whole operation.

A proper investigation by a joint team of various enforcement agencies is needed to probe the scam. Justice Deka Barua has ordered the Karbi Anglong Superintendent of Police to conduct a detailed inquiry and to submit a report to the court.