Spurious Murate of Potash damages paddy fields

Spurious Murate of Potash damages paddy fields

The greediness of fertilisers dealers in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana has resulted in turning thousands of acres of paddy fields into saline

Ongole: The greediness of fertilisers’ dealers in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana has resulted in turning thousands of acres of paddy fields into saline.

The spurious Murate of Potash (MOP) supplied by the selfish dealers to innocent farmers has damaged the present crop, and also affected the crops for the next two seasons.

The raids by vigilance and enforcement department along with the agriculture and police departments in Prakasam, Guntur districts unearthed a syndicate of dealers who are manufacturing, distributing spurious potash to almost all districts in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where paddy is being cultivated.

The involvement of agriculture officials is under investigation while the Agriculture Minister promises to take up awareness programmes for alternate crop in the mean time.

The Government of Andhra Pradesh conducted soil tests in the State and supplied a nutrients’ chart to the farmers personalised for their land, a couple of years ago. Based on the crop and deficiency of the nutrients in the soil the agriculture department officials are advising the farmers to use only specific minerals and nutrients thus reducing their expenditure.

The greedy dealers of the fertilisers who lost business due to the soil cards, found a way to make more money, by preparing spurious potash. Murate of Potash or MOP is widely used by the farmers to stimulate the growth by strengthening the roots and to give the plant resistance to pests and diseases. Potassium Chloride is the main element in the MOP, which is a metal halide salt composed of Potassium and Chlorine.

The odourless white or colourless vitreous crystal resembling MOP easily dissolves in water and tastes like salt. These characteristics of MOP helped the fertilisers’ dealers to make money by preparing spurious MOP.

They mixed 30 per cent of MOP with 70 per cent of its identical common salt. The innocent farmers who purchased the spurious potash to spray in their soil, turned their lands into saline lands and non-suitable to paddy with their own hands.

In December last year, the vigilance and enforcement department in the State received complaints from the farmers. The farmers also informed them that they are suspecting that the local agriculture officials might have also involved in the racket.

After a few days of research, the vigilance and enforcement department along with the district-level agriculture officials raided a few fertilizers’ shops in Guntur and Prakasam districts and seized few bags of spurious potash.

After the investigation, they found that a few dealers in Tripurantakam of Prakasam district played the key role in the manufacture and distribution of the spurious MOP to almost all districts in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The regional vigilance and enforcement officer in Prakasam district M Rajani, Joint Director of agriculture P V Srirama Murthy raided the shops and godowns of various dealers at Tirpurantakam and Somepalli while their counterparts in Guntur district conducted raids at Narasaraopet, Vinukonda, Macharla, Muppalla and other areas.

The officials seized about 1,200 bags of spurious MOP in IPL company bags, weighing nearly 60 metric tonnes and worth Rs 25 lakh. Rajani announced that their team booked four criminal cases against the dealers and got to know that they brought the stock from Mysore in Karnataka.

The agriculture department appointed Deputy Director M Vijaya Nirmala as the investigating authority on the complaints from farmers about involvement of local officials.

Requesting anonymity, a senior agriculture officer explained the scale of damage to the fields. He said that the potash content is about 10 to 30 per cent in the seized bags and considering their usage in the normal paddy field, the soil would have already turned into saline.

He explained that the paddy would not yield much in the saline soil and he suggested to the farmers to skip paddy for the next two seasons and sow salt resisting crops in the meantime.

Agriculture Minister Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy told The Hans India that he understands the level of damage caused by the spurious potash. He said that efforts were being made to educate the farmers about alternate crops and assured that all those dealers and officials involved in the racket would be punished soon.

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