Do not ban Ammonium Nitrate
Against the backdrop of series of blasts in the country in the recent past, the Centre announced its decision to this effect and invited suggestions and objections from experts and public before October 31. However, the substance is also used as a blasting agent in mining and as a fertiliser in agriculture. "It seems, it would be practically impossible for the industries, bulk and regular users, to carry out their business considering the government move. Cost of operations will shoot up, leading to increase in the cost of this basic ingredient being used by explosive, mining and fertiliser industries," an expert in the field said.
"The basic question is, would the government decision really be able to curb terrorist activities. Unfortunately the answer is in the negative," a city-based mining engineer Satish Kate said. Kate, who has worked with the Indian Bureau of Mines said, "Any terror blast requires a small quantity of AN in few kgs. Small quantity is and can be available, in spite of, new rules. Extracting AN from fertiliser grade containing less then 45 per cent AN as per suggested rules, shall not be difficult."
"Ammonium Nitrate itself is not explosive unless it is mixed with diesel in certain proportion and the detonating source it applies. However AN can get blasted by lightning, fire or short circuits, therefore treating AN on par with explosives is erroneous and applying the same provision of the rules for explosives is totally uncalled for," he added.