seeds of violence

As fertiliser riots spread across Haryana, police stations turn into urea distribution centres

Farmers across the northern state have been protesting the prolonged shortage of urea with demonstrations and violence.

A severe scarcity of urea in Haryana has pushed the state into the grip of fertiliser riots, spreading panic among farmers and forcing the administration to distribute urea through police stations. At some places the shortage has led to violence, and at others massive demonstrations.

“The yield of wheat will get severely affected if sufficient urea is not applied to the crop in the next five to seven days,” said Laxman Shekhawat, a farmer in Nanuana village of Haryana’s Sirsa district. “The Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] had made tall promises to farmers before the Assembly elections, but it seems he is interested only in pleasing (Barack) Obama and a handful of industrialists. We never experienced this kind of crisis during the 10 years of the previous [Bhupinder Hooda] government.”

The Haryana Congress apportions blame to the Union government, which, it says, has failed to meet the state’s urea quota. Urea, a key input for enhancing agricultural production, is integral for the cultivation of high-yield wheat. In Haryana, the wheat crop is sown in October and early November. Between mid-November and mid-January, farmers need urea in large quantities to irrigate the fields.


Farmers queue up to get urea


Haryana’s farmers first noticed the scarcity of urea around the end of November, about a month after a Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar took the reins in the state.

By mid-December, the shortfall started causing panic. On December 16, farmers staged protests around the state over non-availability of urea in state-run shops. At Narwana railway station in Jind district, a throng of farmers blockaded train services on the Delhi-Ludhiana route for three hours, while at Kalayat in Kaithal district, farmers expressed their ire by blocking the Chandigarh-Hissar national highway.

Nearly a week later, Sonepat and Ambala became the flashpoints. On December 22, farmers blockaded many roads in Gohana in Sonepat district. They lifted the obstructions only after the local administration promised to supply them the required urea within 24 hours. The same day, hundreds of farmers gathered at the local grain market in Ambala when they learnt that urea was being distributed at a private fertiliser outlet there. Only with great effort could the police control the mob.

National highway blockaded

As the scarcity of urea has persisted, farmers have grown more desperate. There have been sporadic incidents of looting of fertiliser, forcing the Haryana government to deploy police at fertiliser distribution centres. In some areas, it has turned police stations into urea distribution centres to keep mobs of farmers away.

Yet, the shortage has been so acute that, despite government measures, fertiliser riots have not subsided. On January 10, hundreds of farmers rioted and attacked policemen when the distribution of urea at the police post in a grain market in Hansi in Hissar district was stopped for a while. Later, when more than 300 farmers were booked for the incident, another group of angry mob blocked the Hissar-Delhi national highway, demanding immediate release of urea.

“I have been running a fertiliser shop for almost 20 years, but never have I seen such an agrarian crisis,” said Deen Dayal, a wholesale dealer of fertilisers in Tavru block in Haryana’s Mewat district.

State plays blame game

Laxman Shekhawat, a farmer in Nanuana village in Sirsa district, observed that farmers have been incensed further by the government’s insensitivity. “Instead of taking concrete steps to improve the situation, the chief minister and his colleagues have been issuing statements that there is no shortage of urea and that the crisis has emerged because farmers resorted to overbuying fertiliser,” Shekhawat said. “Blaming farmers for the shortage is a cruel joke.”

Indeed, the dispensation has been busy playing the blame game. For long after the crisis became apparent, Khattar and his Agriculture Minister Om Prakash Dhankar denied reports of urea shortage. About a month ago, Congress legislative party leader Kiran Choudhry wrote to the chief minister, expressing concern over reports that truckloads of fertiliser was being smuggled to neighbouring states from Haryana, where urea is relatively cheap as it is sold without Value Added Tax.

“Immediately thereafter, the state government and the BJP leaders have started blaming the previous Hooda government for failing to make advance arrangement of the fertiliser,” said Congress spokesperson R S Mann. “The truth, however, is different.”

According to Mann, between November and January, when urea consumption is highest, the Union government has failed to meet the quota fixed for Haryana. In November, the state received 1.90 lakh metric tonne of urea as against the quota of 2.65 lakh metric tonne. Similarly, up to December 17, it should have got 1.87 lakh metric tonne of urea, instead it got merely 1.40 lakh metric tonne.

Not just Haryana, some reports say, urea shortage has hit many parts of the country. Its domestic production has been weakened lately because of the Centre’s decision to withdraw subsidy for naphtha-based urea production, resulting in the closure of some plants.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.

Play

The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.