Weeks after government stopped supply of natural gas to Deepak Fertilizers, Maharashtra government has asked the oil ministry to restore supplies to avoid shortage of crop nutrients during peak kharif season.
The ministry, acting on a request from the department of fertilizers, had on May 13 ordered stoppage of 0.5 million standard cubic meters per day of domestic gas being supplied to Deepak Fertilizers on grounds that it was using the subsidised fuel to manufacture market-priced crop nutrients. Cheaper domestic gas, it said, was only for manufacture of subsidised urea.
Maharashtra government's Department of Agriculture on May 22 wrote to the ministry saying demand for fertilizer specially Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potash (Potassium) or NPK complex fertilizers for crops like sugarcane was picking up.
This demand will further increase from coming crops of cotton, grape, soyabean and vegetables in the state. Nitrogen in these fertilizers gives good result of these crops in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat.
The state government said Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers (RCF), Gujarat State Fertilizer & Chemicals and Deepak Fertilizer were using natural gas for the production of complex fertilizer. While supply to Deepak has been stopped, the fuel is being supplied to RCF and GSFC only for manufacture of urea.
Maharashtra requires 1.5 lakh tons Mahapower 24:24:00 (a form of NPK fertilizer) manufactured by Deepak Fertilizers in kharif season. Deepak supplied only 23,169 tons of this crop nutrient as against a demand for 44,400 tonnes due to non-availability of gas.
"This might lead to severe shortage of this fertilizer in the peak season," it said adding the product was mainly used in Marathawada and Vidharbha regions which in the past have reported cases of farmer suicides due to crop failure.
The non-availability of the fertilizer at a crucial time is "a cause of grave concern to the Maharashtra government as it will greatly impact the farmers of the area," it said.
"More importantly these areas are predominantly Kharif dominated and therefore we would request your intervention immediately to help ensure that RCF, GSFC and Deepak Fertilizers are able to supply NPK fertilizers," it wrote.
Deepak Fertilizer supplies up to 90 per cent of its production in the state.
"It is requested that the gas supply to all these units including Deepak Fertilizers should be immediately continued so that production may be restored at the earliest in the interest of farmers of Maharashtra state. Issue of the price of natural gas at which it is to be