LAHORE - Admitting the fact that Punjab is facing the worst urea fertilizer shortage at a time when sowing season of rice crop is at its peak, Senior Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khosa Wednesday held federal government responsible for the mess and shortage. Responding to a point order, veteran PML-N politician Zulfiqar Ali Khosa explained to the Punjab Assembly that Federal Minister for Industries and Production Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo is responsible for the urea fertilizer shortage in the province. Though Khosa lauded the prime minister for taking strong notice of the worst fertilizer shortage in the country but he grilled Wattoo in the House stating that 'Ministry of Industries and Production is behind all the mess and responsible for the ongoing fertilizer crisis. Shahzadi Umarzadi Tiwana of PML-N raised the question on a point of order and demanded the provincial government to ask federal government under what law, the Minister for Industries and Production is distributing fertilizer quota among the legislators and his favourites. Khosa said that the prime minister had called an urgent meeting on June 3, 2009 on the fertilizer shortage and all the cabinet members, except Wattoo, agreed to hand over the responsibility of import of fertilizer to the private sector. All the participants of the meeting including the PM agreed to engage the private sector in the import and distribution of urea fertilizer, he said, adding, but the minister for Industries and Production insisted that the fertilizer should be imported through Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP). He said that he had presented the view point of Punjab in the meeting and the prime minister endorsed his suggestions in this regard as the TCP had no proper distribution network. He said that the distribution of urea fertilizer to the growers through Utility Stores is very complicated and even beyond understanding, as it has a limited network in the country with only 215 branches, across Pakistan, which is not sufficient even at Tehsil level. Comparatively, he said, the private sector has a vast network with 8,000 dealers and agents including 5,000 in the Punjab province. He said that the growers were running from pillar to post in search of fertilizer for the rice crop but the TCP has not imported the fertilizer. He said that the prime minister had taken strong notice of the fertilizer shortage and also directed the federal government to immediately import urea fertilizer to overcome the shortage. He said that around 2.2 million tons urea fertilizer is being produced locally while total demand is 2.8 million tons. Therefore, he said, Pakistan has to import around 600,000 tons fertilizer to overcome shortage. However, Khosa hoped that some stocks of fertilizer would arrive in the province by the end of this month as the prime minister had ordered to immediately open Letter of Credit (L/C) for the import of urea. He also clarified that neither the Punjab government had given quota to any minister or parliamentarian nor any quota would be issued to anybody in future. He also appreciated the prime minister and said that the PM is very committed and serious in this regard as he had taken action to overcome the urea shortage. He also said that the Minister for Industries should have learnt from the past experience of distribution of fertilizer through utility store. He also pointed that last year, the province witnessed that the farmers were attacking the fertilizer-loaded trucks to get fertilizer. He further said that they had asked the federal government to keep strategic stock of at least 2.5 million tons of urea but the TCP has only 74,000 tons urea fertilizer.