Chandigarh, August 7: Senior officers of the Forest Department in Haryana have come under the scanner over the purchase of 39 lakh clone eucalyptus plants at “inflated” rates without approval of the state government.
The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) on Monday wrote to the Divisional Forest Officers (DFOs) of Ambala, Yamunanagar, Kaithal, Panipat, Sonepat, Rohtak, Hisar, Sirsa, Fatehabad, Bhiwani, Jind and Rewari seeking explanation for “purchasing clone eucalyptus plants in violation of the rules and providing wrong information to the head office” by August 8.
The letter warns that if no explanation is received by August 8, it will be presumed that they have no defence to offer. Under the rules, before the DFOs place any purchase orders at the district level or release payments, tenders are floated by the headquarters and the successful bidder’s name is given to the DFOs.
Without waiting for the process to complete, verbal orders were issued by a senior officer to the DFOs to place orders. While DFOs of four districts refused to place orders, many others received consignments and partially distributed plants among farmers, The Tribune has learnt.
Further, the number of plants an Andhra Pradesh-based firm claims to have supplied doesn’t match with the reports submitted by the 12 DFOs.
Sources said a little over 39 lakh clone eucalyptus plants had been purchased from the firm at Rs 4.87 per plant though the firm had supplied the same plants at Rs 3.5 per unit in March, when plants for the previous financial year 2017-18 were purchased.
Joginder Karontha, president, Van Karamchari Sangh, Haryana, said: “Our department has big nurseries across the state. Despite that, officers have been purchasing plants from outside. Our association has been opposing this.”
The Forest Department has been distributing eucalyptus plants to farmers for plantation on agriculture land along roads and pathways under Community Forestry.
In December last year, the government disbanded its Community Forestry wing and merged it with its Territorial wing. PCCF Anil Hooda, however, maintained the purchases had been made after the tender process.
Source Tribune India