A private company not only sold its equipments from the stall of Punjab agriculture department at the kisan mela organised by Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, at its regional centre here on Friday, but also gave 'on the spot' subsidy to farmers, which is impossible otherwise.
Amritsar-based Joel Agro Industries claimed to have sold around 10 5-litre spray pumps and around 200 2-litre spray pumps from the official stall of the department. Officially, the stall was meant for demonstration of farm techniques by department officials.
What was more surprising that the company also used stall of department to give 'on-the-spot subsidy' on behalf of the government to farmers for which there has been no provision in the rule book. The department is now expressing ignorance about any such business done under its eyes.
"We have given Rs 2,400 as 'on-the-spot subsidy' on petrol-run spray pumps and Rs 1,600 subsidy on battery-run pumps. However, there was no subsidy on 2 litre pumps. We gave on the spot subsidy and sold the pumps after cutting the cost equal to the subsidy provided by the government on pumps," Said Joel Anwar over phone to HT.
When contacted, the department official Parmeshwar Singh, who was in-charge of the stall at the mela, claimed that he had no knowledge of any such business from the stall. He claimed that there was also no provision of on-the-spot subsidy. He also claimed that the stall was only for demonstration of agricultural techniques.
Interestingly, chief agricultural officer Rajinder Singh Brar, said, "What is wrong if subsidy is going direct into the pockets of farmers?" However, when asked if the department will pay the company for the subsidy it claimed to have paid to farmers on the spot, he said, "No. we will not be able to reimburse that subsidy."
He did not answer the question why a company would give subsidy to farmers from its own pocket.
But it was the only case of on-the-spot subsidy. There was another Bathinda-based company that offered on-the-spot subsidy to farmers. What was more alarming that they offered less subsidy than that proposed by the government in its advertisements.
The department only said that there was no way these companies could give on-the-spot subsidy to farmers.
"If a farmer goes to the agriculture department, then it is almost impossible for him to avail subsidy without giving bribe. And, now private companies are giving on-the-spot subsidy. How it could be possible. It only indicates large-scale corruption in the distribution of subsidy by department officials and private companies.
Surely, farmers will be losers at the end," said Shingara Singh Mann, a leader of the Bhartiya Kisan Union.