Two years after they were indicted for misappropriating the chief minister’s relief package for distressed farmers in the Vidarbha region , the state government has decided to suspend 405 state employees from the agriculture department.
Also, two senior bureaucrats — agriculture secretary and agriculture commissioner — will be asked to show cause for delaying action in the two-year-old case.
Replying to a calling attention notice by Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Sudhir Mungantiwar, Harish Pingle, Vijay Wadettiwar (Congress) and 16 other BJP-Shiv Sena MLAS regarding misappropriation of funds, agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the 405 employees were found “prima facie” guilty.
He announced the decision in the Legislative Assembly on Monday.
Of the accused, 50 senior officers of Class 1 and Class 2 ranks will be suspended immediately while the rest will receive orders in a phase-wise manner within the next one month.
The 405 guilty employees will be prosecuted by the police because of the criminal nature of the offence, Vikhe Patil said.
In December 2005, out of the CM’s Rs1,075-crore financial package, Rs150 crore was sanctioned for 60,000 economically weak farmers. A year later, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also declared a Rs3,750-crore relief package.
However, irregularities were reported and the government then asked the then Amravati divisional commissioner, Gopal Reddy, to conduct a probe. Reddy’s report submitted to the government and tabled in the legislature in 2008 held 405 officers guilty.
Vikhe Patil told the Hindustan Times: “I have put 50 senior officials under suspension because they were directly responsible for supervising the relief. The others will be suspended and prosecuted by the police. We will ensure that the case stands in court.”