Diesel costlier for char farmers in Chilmari – The Daily Star

Farmers in char areas of Brahmaputra river in Chilmari upazila are spending Tk 83 for a litre diesel to irrigate their boro land instead of the government-fixed rate of Tk 80 enjoyed by mainland farmers.
This is because local dealers do not get a supply of the fuel from the floating depots of three state-run marketing companies on the Brahmaputra river, forcing retailers to use horse-drawn carts to carry diesel to the remote areas to deliver them to the farmers.
Char farmers have to buy diesel at a higher rates from retailers as the latter has to spend additionally to bring the fuel to the remote areas after buying it from dealers.
But the rate of diesel was the same in the char and mainland while the dealers got diesel supply from the floating depots on the Brahmaputra three years ago.
“I need 50-60 litres of diesel to run shallow machines to supply water every day during the boro paddy farming season,” said Mantez Ali, a 60-year-old farmer at Astomir char.
“We are forced to buy diesel at Tk 83 per litre from retailers.”
“If the dealers get diesel from the floating depots, we will be able to buy the fuel at the government-fixed rate from dealers,” he said, calling for ensuring the supply of diesel from the floating depots.
There are 6,000 shallow machines in the entire Chilmari upazila. Of them, 70 per cent are operated in char areas, according to local agriculture officials.
At present, there are three barges on the Brahmaputra in the Chilmari naval port area. One owned by Meghna Petroleum Ltd has a capacity of four lakh litres while the other two owned by Jamuna Petroleum Ltd have a combined capacity of 8 lakh litres.
However, the state-run companies have not supplied diesel from the barges for long.
Twenty-two listed dealers have not been getting the supply of diesel from the floating depots on the Brahmaputra at the Chilmari naval port in Kurigram for the last three years.
To meet the demand, traders are receiving the fuel from Baghabari Ghat and Parbatipur through lorries, spending extra on transport fare.
Ayub Ali, depot superintendent of Meghna Petroleum’s Chilmari depot, blames the navigability problem in the Brahmaputra for the current situation.
He says oil tankers can’t come to the floating depots to supply diesel.
“So, there is no supply of diesel from the floating depot as well,” Ali said. “If the navigability of the river improves, oil tankers will be able to come easily and allow the depot to supply diesel as per demand.”
Shafiar Rahman, a diesel retailer at Char Shakha Hati, says they transport diesel to impassable char areas using horse-drawn carts after buying them from dealers in the mainland. As this imposes an additional cost, they have to sell the diesel at a higher rate to farmers.
“But we had not charged char farmers any additional rate for the diesel when we got the fuel from the floating depot a few years ago,” he said.
According to diesel dealer Jaynal Mia, they have to shell out Tk 1,500 to Tk 1,700 for transporting 1,000 litres of diesel from Baghabari Ghat and Parbatipur through lorries, forcing them to sell the fuel at a higher price.
“The farmers are suffering too. If diesel is supplied from the floating depots, we will be able to sell diesel at a fair price,” he said.
Jaynal went on to say that the supply from the floating depots was regular from 1989 to 1997. But after 1997, the supply became irregular and the quantity was inadequate.
“But, we have not got any diesel from the floating depots in the last three years.”
A char farmer is spending Tk 118, including Tk 83 for a litre of diesel and Tk 35 for shallow machine rent, to irrigate one decimal of land during the boro season, up from Tk 90 last year.
However, a mainland farmer spends Tk 110, which includes Tk 80 for a litre of diesel and Tk 30 for shallow machine rent for the same purpose, up from Tk 85 last year.
​​​​​​​দূর থেকে দেখলে যে কারো মনে হতে পারে অনেক পুরনো কোনো ঘর পরিত্যক্ত অবস্থায় পড়ে আছে। বিষয়টি আংশিক ঠিক। ঘরগুলো পরিত্যক্ত হলেও পুরনো নয়। বিশ্বাস করতে কষ্ট হবে, ঘরগুলো মাত্র ১ বছর আগে…


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