The Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) has found another culprit in the Doaba pesticide scam.
After revealing that Phillaur block agriculture office sold spurious pesticides to farmers, it has now found that the agriculture department took no action against a block agriculture officer (BLO) of Nakodar subdivision who had violated service rules and forged documents to secure licence for selling pesticide as a private player. The papers with HT suggest that a departmental inquiry found BLO Harpal Singh to be running a pesticide outlet at Uggi village in the Nakodar agriculture block, where he is posted for the past more than 20 years.
The documents also suggest that the BLO forged the signatures of his son-in-law, Manjeet Singh of Sidhwan Dona village, to obtain a shop licence in his name, and also asked farmers to buy pesticide and seed from his outlet (Kisan Trading Company) only. He verified the licence of his own shop by declaring that he had no relationship with the owner.
When the agriculture office got a complaint on June 8, a team raided the shop and seized a large amount of pesticide. The internal enforcement wing of the department in Jalandhar also investigated the BLO’s son-in-law, who in July submitted an affidavit that he never ran a pesticide shop. The inquiry started after local farmers complained that Harpal forced them to buy pesticides from him and wouldn’t issue them subsidised seeds from the government quota. After the BLO was indicted in the internal inquiry, the-then Jalandhar chief agriculture officer, Swatantar Kumar Aery, wrote to agriculture director Mangal Singh on July 9 and July 25, seeking permission to register a first-information report (FIR) under the Insecticide Act, 1968, and Rule 1971 of the agriculture department. The director and other senior officials preferred to sit on the file. No reply to those letters has come, so far. Harpal is said to be close to leaders of the state’s ruling party.
The sleuths studying the file don’t know yet whether or not to add it to evidence in the ongoing inquiry into the Phillaur scam that HT had exposed on October 1.
Based on the HT report, the CM ordered the DGP (vigilance) to submit action-taken report in a month. The VB has recorded the statement of seven farmers who say that Phillaur agriculture officer Ranjit Singh defrauded them and compelled them to buy spurious, non-recommended pesticides.
Jalandhar, Punjab Vigilance Bureau, Doaba pesticide scam, farmers, Kisan Trading Company