Other States

Punjab Agriculture Director arrested

Punjab Agriculture Director Mangal Singh Sandhu was suspended on Monday by the State government after an inquiry report found his alleged involvement in serious irregularities in purchase of pesticides for cotton growers, an official said.

Sandhu was arrested last night from Chandigarh by Bathinda police for his alleged involvement in the supply of “spurious” pesticides to cotton farmers.

Besides Sandhu, two other officers -Deputy Director (Cotton Extension) Parminder Singh and the then Joint Director Agriculture, Balwinder Singh Sohal - have also been charge-sheeted as a major punishment under the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1970 in this regard, said an official spokesman here.

He said the decision in this regard was taken after an inquiry report was submitted to the Chief Minister on Monday evening by the Special Secretary, Agriculture, Daljit Singh.

The Punjab government had ordered an inquiry to probe irregularities in purchase of pesticides for cotton growers.

The inquiry reported “serious irregularities/violations” in purchase of pesticides by the Director (Sandhu), he said.

He said the matter needs to be investigated further to ascertain reasons for such irregularities.

Hence, the entire report has been referred to the Director General of Police (DGP) Punjab for further investigation since Badal has already constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe sale of spurious pesticides in the State.

No e-tender

Divulging the contents of the report, the spokesperson said, the inquiry officer observed that then Director Agriculture preferred to purchase ‘Oberon’ pesticide at his own level thus “ignoring” the orders of Agriculture Minister, that too “without examining” it technically and adopting e-tendering process, “without seeking” approval from the competent authority thereby exceeding his financial powers.

The Chief Minister has further directed the Agriculture Department to take resolute action to punish the guilty at all costs.

Punjab Congress had accused the SAD-BJP led government of buying pesticides ‘Oberon’ for cotton at a much higher rate than the prevailing market rate while alleging that there was a “big scam”. It had also alleged that pesticides were bought without following norms.

A total 92,000 litres of ‘Oberon’ pesticide was bought worth Rs 33 crore for distribution among growers in the State. - PTI

For serious irregularities in purchase of pesticides

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Printable version | May 27, 2022 10:07:49 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/punjab-agriculture-director-arrested/article7727990.ece