Pesticide scam: Probe indicts three officers, reprieve for minister

  • Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Oct 06, 2015 09:39 IST
Mangal Singh Sandhu, suspended director, agriculture, in custody in a Talwandi Sabo court in Bathinda on Monday. (Sanjeev Kumar/HT)

An inquiry report into the pesticide scam, submitted to Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal by additional chief secretary (development) Suresh Kumar on Monday indicted agriculture, director, Mangal Singh Sandhu and two other officers of the agriculture directorate for glaring violations of rules in pesticide purchases, but apparently gave the clean chit to agriculture minister Jathedar Tota Singh.

The 11-page inquiry report mentions, “… despite the orders of the agriculture minister making purchase of pesticides (to check attack of pests – tela (aphid) and white fly on cotton crop), as per rules in larger public interest, the agriculture directorate ignored his orders, and purchased the pesticides without proper technical investigations.”

Two officers of the directorate who were part of the decision-making team for pesticide purchases — deputy director Parminder Singh and joint director Balwinder Singh Sohal — have also been chargesheeted.

The report also mentioned that Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, recommended four pesticides each of aphid and whitefly, but a committee led by Sandhu decided to purchase only one each for aphid (thiamethoxam) and whitefly (spiromesifen). “The directorate failed to bring any observation on record as to why the other three recommended pesticides were not purchased,” the report adds. Reportedly, the additional chief secretary’s office has also written to the state police to further investigate Sandhu’s role in the purchase of pesticides.

The report has been sent to the director general of police (DGP) for further investigation since the latter has already set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the sale of spurious pesticides.

Meanwhile, the seniormost joint director-rank officer in the agriculture department, Gurdial Singh, has been given the officiating charge of director.

Samples sent to lab

Additional director general of police (ADGP, crime) IPS Sahota, who is heading the SIT, said 300 samples of pesticides were procured and sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Faridabad (Haryana).

Chandigarh, pesticide scam, Parkash Singh Badal, Tota Singh, whitefly, cotton crop, Punjab Agricultural University

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