Chemical fertiliser spillage causes harm to people, environmentAround 1,225 tonnes of DAP have been intentionally dumped in an open ground at the Sirsiya Dry Port since 2020.
A large quantity of chemical fertiliser intentionally dumped in an open ground in Sirsiya Dry Port in Birgunj has started spilling due to the monsoon, causing potential risk to the freshwater in the area as well as to human health.
Around 1,225 tonnes of di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) dumped on open ground started melting and running off to the nearby agriculture fields and rivers.
Experts say that concentrated amounts of nitrogen or phosphorus can cause a lot of environmental damage.
Excessive nitrate concentrations in drinking water can cause health risks, especially in young children.
Phosphorus can be transported to surface waters and cause algae blooms and eutrophication; resulting in poor water quality. Surface water, like streams, ponds and lakes, are particularly susceptible to damage from fertiliser runoff.
The DAP imported by Salt Tradition Corporation was not permitted for customs clearance after it arrived in poor condition in 2020.
Since then, they have been stored in the south-eastern part of the customs yard.
But now, they have started to melt and leak into the nearby fields.
Plants around the customs yard such as bamboo, sheesham and grasses have died, officials said.
The locals worry that the spillage of massive amounts of chemical fertilisers may degrade the soil health.
The Salt Trading Corporation had purchased the fertilisers from the Swiss Singapore Overseas Enterprises. The company had imported them from Jordan.
However, while importing, the ship carrying the chemical fertiliser was trapped in an ‘Amphan Cyclone’ in the Bay of Bengal in the second week of August 2020.
The quality of this supply had deteriorated as it got wet due to the Amphan cyclone.
Out of 25,000 tonnes of DAP contracted by the Salt Trading Corporation, 1,225 tonnes were imported in the last lot. But it got damaged by the cyclone.
Sirsiya Dry Port Customs Office decided to confiscate and destroy the damaged fertilisers.
However, on December 17 last year, a meeting at the Finance Ministry decided to hand over the fertilisers to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.
The representatives of Salt Trading and the Ministry of Agriculture inspected the warehouse of fertilisers after the decision.
However, no progress has been made regarding the clearance of the chemical fertilisers from the customs yard.
Ram Prasad Mainali, chief customs officer at Sirsiya Dry Port, said that after the decision of the Ministry of Finance to hand over the fertilisers to the Ministry of Agriculture, the customs no longer has the authority to oversee the stranded fertilisers.
“The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has not shown any interest in managing them,” said Mainali. “We don’t have the right to destroy them.”
According to Mainali, Finance Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat was also informed about the issue during his visit to the dry port, two weeks earlier.
“Mahat has promised to resolve the issue but there is no progress yet,” Mainali added.