Manipur govt diverting urea for poppy plantations, claims Jairam Ramesh

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday accused the BJP government in Manipur of diverting its quota of urea to the state’s hill districts where poppy is allegedly grown for opium.

In a tweet captioned “BJP’s Vikas in Manipur”, Ramesh wrote: “Manipur is getting TWICE the supply of urea it needs and yet farmers complain of shortage! Why?

“Because urea is diverted to hill areas in Manipur, where poppy is being grown for opium in large areas in last 4 yrs. The State Govt is fully complicit in this.”

Ramesh, who has been appointed as the party’s observer for next year’s Assembly elections in the state, attached a statement issued recently by the Loumi Shimee Apunba Lup, an Imphal-based farmers’ body that had demanded a probe into the shortage of urea for peasants.

Urea is extensively used in illegal poppy cultivation. The farmers in the state claimed the poppy/opium business thrives in some hilly areas.

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The farmers’ organisation had said it received complaints on a regular basis from the farmers over shortage of urea due to smuggling. Protesting the “artificial” crisis, the farmers had also staged sit-in demos and a hunger strike.

Manipur has 81,189 hectares of paddy fields in the Imphal valley. The size of paddy fields in the hills, which surround the valley, is 88,820 hectares. Farming has been affected in around 20,000 hectares due to various developmental projects.

Manipur’s total urea requirement is 2.43 lakh bags – a farmer needs three 45-kg urea bags per hectare. The Centre had allotted 4.4 lakh urea bags to the state which was 1.97 lakh bags more than the state’s requirement, the farmers’ body had said.

Alleging black marketing, it added that there have been several instances of urea being smuggled into neighbouring Myanmar where poppy is grown aplenty.

In February, Chief Minister N Biren Singh had offered a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh to a village in the Ukhrul district for voluntarily destroying poppy plants grown in the village.