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CM Punjab comes under scanner for pesticide scam in Agriculture department

September 28, 2015 03:10 PM

Punjab News Express/ Satinder Bains
CHANDIGARH: The Rs.37 crore pesticide scam in Punjab agriculture department which led to damage of cotton crop in the state has become murkier with the disclosure by Director Agriculute Mangal Singh Sandhu that Chief Minister office was directly dealing with the affiars
of agriculture department and documents related to purchase order were also leaked to media by certain officials in CM office.

Director Agriculture was last week removed from his post and demoted to junior post after reports of illegal purchase of spurious pesticides appeared in the media. Punjab and Haryana High Court has however today stayed the removal of Sandhu from the post of Director.

The Congress Legislative Party leader Sunil Jakhar had blamed the Director for bungling in the purchase of pesticides. He had also released to press the documents showing purchase of pesticides without approval from the concerned minister and Secretary of the department. Sandhu was removed within hours after news appeared in the media. Agriculture minister Tota Singh became the target of opposition in the Vidhan Sabha and Congress demanded his resignation. Tota Singh had denied knowledge of any purchase of pesticides and described the damage of cotton crop a natual calamity. Chief Minister had also defended the minister and assured to compensate the farmers while refused to handover the probe to CBI as demanded by Congress.

Sandhu in an interview in media said that he had incormed the Agriculture minister about the purchase of pesticides which was being dealt directly by the Chief Minister's office. He said that he was being made scapegoat as the information about the pesticides deal was leadeb by
certain senior officials in the CM office. He said that he had proof and will expose all those are responsible for it.

Sandhu who belonged to village Pakka in Lambi, the home constituency of Chief Minister was known for his proximity with the Badal family and he was even bypassing the Agriculture minister Tota Singh and Secretary Agriculture in taking decisions pertained to Agriculture department. He had got lifetime shock when same Chief Minister bundled him suspecting him guilty of leaking information.

Director said that figures about damage to cotton crop with whitefly were hidden by Deputy Director S.S.Sudhi and Commissioner Agriculture Balwinder Singh Sidhu. He said that officials in the CM office had given bad name to state government and Agriculture department.

In a bid to downplay the widespread damage of cotton crop in Malwa belt, the agriculture department had reportedly fabricated the figures of loss to show it meager. The Vice Chancellor of Agriculture university probably under pressure from CM office had given statement that
farmers were responsible for the white fly attack on crop since they had not followed the guidelines of using pesticides. The statement of VC had angered the farmers and he was booed out when he went to meet the agitating farmers at Bathinda a few days back.

Now questions arises, if Agriculture minister was not aware of the pesticide purchase, was the deal with private pesticide company made on the orders of Chief Minister ? It appeared that CM office was annoyed fith Sandhu due to leackage of documents not for purchase of pesticides.

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