Kerala

Seed scam hits Agriculture Department

Two senior officials of the Agriculture Department, who are also husband and wife, are among 18 government officials facing the music for the seed scam that has rocked the Kerala State Seed Development Authority.

The officials and a private firm have been held responsible for flooding the State with poor quality seeds and causing a major setback to the agriculture sector of the State. Primary investigation has put the financial loss caused by the fraudulent purchase of poor quality seeds at ₹13.65 crore. The loss to the farmers and the sector has not been estimated.

Ashok Kumar Thekkan, Additional Director, Agriculture Department, and his wife, P. K. Beena, also Additional Director in the department, were held primary responsible for purchasing low-quality paddy and agriculture seeds and distributing it among farmers. The couple were suspended from service on Thursday, said V.S. Sunil Kumar, Minister for Agriculture.

It was following an investigation carried out by the Vigilance Officer (Finance) of the Agriculture Department that the action was initiated. The deals in question were carried out during the tenure of the earlier government, Mr. Sunil kumar said.

The investigation found that the authority purchased poor quality seeds weighing 10,429 tonnes and worth ₹68.84 crore from Kerala Agro Seeds, Kalady, without following tender proceedings and other government instructions.

Department-level actions and booking of police cases and corruption cases with the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau have been recommended against around 20 officials.

Those who have been implicated by the Vigilance officer include M.D Thilakan, Joint Director; former Assistant Directors T. Usha, Honey Mathews, K. J. Oneel, and Shajan Mathew, and N.V. Shubha, former Agriculture Assistant.

The report has recommended Vigilance cases against a few retired officials, including V.V. Pushpangadan, A.I. Ramakrishnan, Sunnykutty M. Kurian, P.A Elsy, T. Ranjana Damodaran, Jessyamma Joseph, T.V. Paul and M. Abdul Latheef for extending undue benefits to the private seed company and causing loss to the exchequer.

Two serving officials, S. Pushpakumari and Lincy Xavier, should be proceeded against for renewing the licence of the private company without carrying out required inspections, it was recommended.

In the case of these officials, files have been send to the Chief Minister to decide on booking police and Vigilance cases, Mr. Sunil Kumar said.

The company shall be blacklisted and a case registered against it with the Vigilance, it was suggested. The report has also recommended not to release the ₹1.88 crore due to the company.


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Printable version | Oct 10, 2021 3:39:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/seed-scam-hits-agriculture-department/article19126756.ece

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