Khemka now hints at fungicide ‘scam’

Points at Rs 60 cr spent to buy a fungicide that is not registered for karnal bunt disease of seeds.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh | Updated: April 17, 2014 10:42 am

Points at Rs 60 cr spent to buy a fungicide that is not registered for karnal bunt disease of seeds.

In the last three years,the Haryana government spent nearly Rs 60 crore for buying a fungicide manufactured by a German company for treatment of Karnal bunt disease of the wheat seeds. Incidentally,the fungicide is not even registered with the Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC) for treating the disease.

The alleged irregularity was brought to fore by Haryana’s whistleblower IAS officer,Ashok Khemka,who in his capacity as managing director of Harayana Seeds Development Corporation (HSDC) has stalled the process and asked the state government to get an audit conducted to unearth the misuse of government funds.

Documents reveal as to how the Germay-based multinational,M/s Bayer CropScience,entered Haryana and the state government showed benevolence to its fungicide Raxil 2% DS (the brand name of Tebuconazole 2% DS) making it mandatory for seed certification. The government also decided to pay a 100 per cent subsidy to the farmers for using it on over 1.5 million quintals of certified seeds every year. This subsidy is being paid out of the RKVY funds.

Haryana purchased Raxil at a cost of Rs 1,343 per kilogram,while the same quantity was purchased by the Uttarakhand government for Rs 970 per kg and various private players for Rs 1,000 per kg.

Raxil is registered with CIBRC only for treating loose smut and flag smut diseases. However,Haryana decided to use it for another wheat seed disease —- Karnal bunt. A company needs to submit results of three field trials for getting its fungicide registered with CIBRC. However,Haryana made usage of Raxil mandatory by allegedly using a “package of practice” issued by Haryana Agriculture University,Hisar in which it mentioned Raxil as a treatment for Karnal bunt.

Even Bayer CropScience’s country head Joerg Rehbein claimed that fungicide is registered with CIBRC for only treating loose smut and flag smut. However,Rehbein added,that “Raxil 2% DS is also extensively tested and included in the package of practices recommendations of premier State Agricultural Universities —- Haryana Agricultural University,Hisar and Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology,Pantnagar —- for the control of loose smut,flag smut and Karnal bunt”.

The issue was raised by 66 Seed Producing Companies/agencies of Haryana by way of a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2010. However,the state told the court in an affidavit that Raxil can treat all three diseases. HC ruled that since the government has also decided to pay 100 per cent subsidy in the matter,the farmers or seed producers should not be having any problems in it. The petition was dismissed.

When Khemka questioned HAU authorities on the basis on which Raxil was recommended for treating Karnal bunt disease; Registrar,HAU,Dr SS Dahiya’s reply was evasive. “It would be appropriate if you approach the Principal Secretary to Government of Haryana,Agriculture Department or DG,Agriculture for clarification(s) if any”.

“Accountability must be fixed in the matter for the misuse of RKVY funds. The HAU has refused to provide the field test results of Raxil treating Karnal bunt disease”,Khemka said.

Glaring points

Even after use of Raxil on 15 lakh hectares of wheat crop in the state for three years,HAU or M/s Bayer CropScience did not obtain registration of Raxil for treatment of Karnal bunt disease on basis of field results

While recommending a specific brand,Raxil,the HAU did not submit a report about the relative efficacy of other 12 fungicides for treatment of wheat seeds registered with CIBRC.

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