Urea shortage due to suspension of freight trains to hit sowing of wheat, vegetables in Punjab

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Chandigarh, Nov 1 (PTI) The suspension of freight trains in Punjab has caused acute shortage of urea for wheat and vegetable crops in Punjab, with the state authorities saying rabi crop sowing is likely to be hit because of it.

Farmers require urea, a key fertiliser for rabi crops, and DAP (diammonium phosphate) for sowing wheat and other vegetable crops like potato, an official of the state agriculture department said.

'There is a shortage of urea in the state,' another senior official of the department said on Sunday.

According to the officials, Punjab needs 14.50 lakh tonnes of urea for the rabi season, but only about 75,000 tonnes is available in the state.

They said 4 lakh tonnes of urea was supposed to arrive in the month of October, but only 1 lakh tonnes was received.

For November, the state has an allocation of 4 lakh tonnes of urea. Wheat sowing season will start in November. It is expected to be cultivated in about 35 lakh hectare area in the state during the rabi season.

'Urea is essentially required at the time of first irrigation of wheat in the first week of December,' one of the officials said, adding that around 6.45 lakh tonnes of urea is required during December alone.

Besides, it is also required for potatoes and other vegetables crops, the officials said.

Urea is coming through trucks from Ambala and Dabwali, but it raises transportation cost significantly, they added.

'The crop yield will be hit if adequate dose of urea is not given to crops,' they said.

Punjab gets urea supplies through trains from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and other states.

Railways has suspended goods train services in Punjab in the wake of blockade of some rail tracks by farmers protesting over Centre's new farm laws.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had sought Punjab government's assurance for safety of trains and crew members to restore freight services, after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh asked him to intervene to resume the services.

Goods train services had earlier resumed in the state after farmer unions on October 21 announced exempting them from their weeks-old 'rail roko' agitation over the Centre's new farm laws.

However, the railways later suspended goods train operations, saying protesting farmers were still blocking the tracks. PTI CHS VSD RVK