Chandigarh, August 17:
Adopting a zero tolerance policy against corruption, the Bhagwant Mann government has initiated a vigilance enquiry into a scam detected by the agriculture department in the distribution of crop residue management machines to the farmers during the previous regime. Taking a serious note of the matter, Agriculture Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal has directed that a thorough probe be conducted into the matter and the file has been sent to Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.
Giving information in this regard, the Agriculture Minister said that the Central Sector Scheme Promotion of Agriculture Mechanization for Insitu Management of Crop Residue (CRM) was implemented by the Punjab government from the year 2018-19 to the year 2021-22.
He said that under this scheme, a total of 90422 different machines have been provided to the beneficiary farmers/registered farmer groups/cooperative societies/FPOs and panchayats from the year 2018-19 to the year 2021-22. Out of these machines, 83986 machines were provided by the Department of Agriculture and the remaining machines were provided by the registered cooperative societies.
Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal said that after receiving reports from many quarters about the scheme that the machines provided on subsidy under the scheme were not made available to eligible farmers, he directed the Agriculture department to conduct a physical verification of the possession of the machines provided under the scheme from the year 2018-19 to the year 2021-22.
The Agriculture Minister disclosed that physical verification of 79,295 machines out of 83,986 machines provided by the department has been done till August 16, 2022, which is 94.4 percent of the total machines. Out of these verified machines, a total of 11275 machines (13%) are not available with the beneficiaries.
Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal said that during the initial investigation by the department, it appears that Rs 125 to 150 crore have been misused. He has ordered meticulous investigation to initiate action against the perpetrators. The Mann government has ordered a crackdown from day one after assuming the charge to unearth the scams done in the previous governments.