Wheat procurement below target

New Delhi, July 28 | Updated: Jul 29 2006, 05:30am hrs
Wheat procurement this fiscal was more than 40% below target, admitted agriculture minister Sharad Pawar in the Rajya Sabha on Friday. Against a target of 16 million tonne, we have procured only 9.2 million tonne till now, Pawar said.

However, rice production and stocks were enough, he added. He said the government had suspended a decision to raise issue price of foodgrains supplied through the public distribution system (PDS) after concerns raised by the Congress and Left parties.

In 2002, the minister said, the government had decided to limit the food subsidy to 50% of the procurement price but since the consumer selling price had not been raised despite rise in procurement price, the subsidy now stood at 67%.

Indias urea demand will grow 11.4%

Indias urea requirement will grow 11.4% to 247.38 lakh tonnes in the current fiscal, minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers BK Handique said on Friday.

Urea demand in kharif season is estimated at 122.38 lakh tonnes, while in rabi season would be 125 lakh tonnes, he said in a written reply to a question in Rajya sabha.

Urea consumption in 2005-06 was 222.04 lakh tonnes. Dia-ammonium phosphate (DAP) demand will grow from 68.31 lakh tonnes in 2005-06 to 81.10 lakh tonnes this fiscal. DAP demand in kharif season would be 33.10 lakh tonnes and in the rabi season would be 48 lakh tonnes.

Moriate of potash (MOP) requirement in kharif season is estimated at 14.66 lakh tonnes and in the rabi season at 16 lakh tonnes. MOP demand in 2005-06 was 25.88 lakh tonnes, he said.

The department has asked the urea manufacturing units to produce beyond their installed capacities by increasing their stream days, postponing turn around etc. About 3.5 lakh tonnes of additional urea is estimated to be produced in the season, he said.

In addition, imports from OMIFCO, a joint venture company set up in Sur, Oman by Oman Oil Co and IFFCO/Kribhco with an annual capacity of 16.52 lakh tonnes, have also commenced, thereby augmenting availability.

Bill to rename Pondicherry introduced

Fulfilling aspirations of the people of Pondicherry, a Bill to rename the Union territory as puducherry was introduced in Rajya Sabha. Piloting the Pondicherry (alteration of name) Bill, 2006, home minister Shivraj Patil said the people have been demanding the renaming for a long time.

The Pondicherry Assembly passed an official resolution in 1980 requesting the centre to pass necessary legislation to alter the name.

Restrictions imposed on sale of edible common salt

The sale of edible common salt for direct human consumption unless iodised has been restricted with effect from May 17 this year. Common salt may, however, be sold for iodization, iron fortification, animal use, preservation, manufacturing medicine and industrial use, minister of state for health Panabaka Lakshmi said in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on Friday.

As per surveys conducted by the directorate general of health services, Indian council of medical research, state health directorates and health institutions; 263 out of 324 districts surveyed covering all states/UTs, were found to be endemic where the prevalence of iodine deficiency disorders is more than 10%, Laxmi said.

Thus no state/UT is free from iodine deficiency disorder, therefore, no part of the country was excluded from the above mentioned restrictions, Laxmi said.

Replying to another questions , Lakshmi said there are an estimated seven to nine lakh new cancer patients in the country, which does not indicate any significant increase.

She admitted that chikungunya disease had spread in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.

PTI