The vigilance bureau probe into the Doaba pesticide scam has found that farmers were sold spurious pesticides last year too.
During a survey by the vigilance teams in Phillaur region where, according to the HT expose, farmers were sold spurious pesticides on subsidised rates by agriculture department officials led by agriculture officer Ranjit Singh, many farmers have alleged procuring such spurious seeds and pesticides last year as well. Some of them claimed that their repeated objections to such low-quality products were not paid heed to by the Phillaur agriculture office.
Five vigilance teams have been visiting villages in Phillaur asking farmers to come forward to register their complaints if they have procured spurious pesticides and other material from the agriculture department.
According to a senior official, following questioning of one Surinder Kumar, a resident of Phillaur whose shop was illegally used as a godown by agriculture officials, around 125 bags of the cartrap hydrochloride pesticide were recovered from the banks of the Sutlej on Thursday morning.
“Our investigation has shown that the bags were thrown by the accused near the river after the issue flared up,” a VB official said, adding that Surinder’s detailed questioning was on and he had admitted storing such pesticides with the help of agriculture officials.
Meanwhile, Ranjit Singh, whom farmers have accused of running the nexus, has not joined the investigation even as the bureau sleuths summoned him five days ago. Vigilance bureau SSP Satinder Singh said, “The chief agriculture officer has informed us that Ranjit has not attended office for four days. His mobile phone is switched off.”
Sources said teams had been sent to nab the officer who, as per the VB sleuths, had not even been to his house in Ludhiana for four days. According to police sources, Ranjit has been visiting SAD leaders requesting them to bail him out of the scam.
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had ordered a probe following an HT report on the scam published on October 1.