The Haryana government in its reference sent to the Central government for a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the purchase of Raxil fungicide has cast aspersions on the recommendations made by the scientists of three agricultural universities regarding the efficacy of Raxil in their package of practices.
The three institutions being put under suspicion are Haryana Agricultural University (HAU), Hisar, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana and GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in Pantnagar, Uttrakhand.
In the reference sent to the department of personnel and training according its consent for the extension of powers and jurisdiction of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act to Haryana, the state government wrote that role of Bayer Crop Science India behind the claim made by some scientists in the three agricultural universities (in Hisar, Ludhiana and Pantnagar) that Raxil was effective in treating Karnal Bunt in wheat crop, which was widely misused by the company, needs to be probed. “Using a questionable recommendation of aforesaid fungicide use by a few scientists of the state agricultural universities included in the package of practice for rabi 2002…requires a thorough probe,’’ said the reference sent by chief secretary DS Dhesi.
However, in this context a 2011 Punjab and Haryana high court order on a petition filed by private seed producers challenging the use of Raxil is significant. “None is expert to make out which particular chemical is most effective and that the other one would not be. It is not appropriate for the courts to determine such issues and these have to be left to be decided by the government on the basis of expert opinion,’’ said Justice Ranjit Singh.
However, the issues mentioned in the CBI reference go against the deposition made by chief secretary Dhesi before the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture. The CS, in his deposition in January 2015, said the state government introduced fungicide for treatment of wheat seed and not for any particular disease and it has also not been used for any unapproved crop.
He said that Raxil was authorised by Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC) for treatment of wheat seed and the wheat seed primarily has three diseases -- Loose Smut, Flag Smut and Karnal Bunt -- for which this fungicide is used. Raxil is registered by CIBRC for the first two diseases (Loose Smut and Flag Smut), which cause maximum damage to wheat produce and productivity, the CS told the committee.
When HT sent a text message to Dhesi, asking why these facts were overlooked by him while making a reference to the CBI, he declined to comment.