Seven out of the 10 districts in Punjab,which were covered by a Central scheme providing 100 per cent subsidy on supply of high-quality seeds to farmers,have been found to be using bogus lists of beneficiaries,allowing seed dealers to siphon funds worth crores in connivance with government officials.
An inquiry conducted by a two-member committee constituted by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in March 2011 has found that the scam was spread across the state. At least seven district agriculture development officers (ADO) admitted before the committee that the list of beneficiaries,who were shown to have been supplied seeds by the governments licensed seed dealers,were 100 per cent fake.
The committee included leader of Opposition Sunil Jakhar as member and chief parliamentary secretary Virsa Singh Valtoha as chairman. Constituted after Jakhar raised the issue in the Vidhan Sabha,the committee recorded detailed proceedings of their inquiry but its report was never submitted. The committee was dissolved just when the final report was being prepared, said Jakhar. However,excerpts of the committees proceedings were submitted in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
A part of the committees proceedings of May 19,2011,reads,The committee asked the ADOs for the percentage of bogus beneficiaries in their areas. They made the statement as under: Gurmeet Singh,ADO,Samrala said 100 per cent of the list is bogus; Kuldip Singh Sekhon,ADO,Khanna said 100 per cent list is bogus; Sukhpal Singh,Agriculture Officer,Ludhiana,Jagraon and Sindhwa Bet said 67 per cent is bogus and in Ludhiana block 75 per cent is bogus; Avtar Singh,ADO,Bermi said 100 per cent is bogus; Kamaljit Singh,ADO,block Pakhowal said 100 per cent list is bogus; Narinder Singh,ADO,Dehlo said 100 per cent of the list provided by two dealers is bogus; Nirmal Singh,ADO,Ghaloti also said that 100 per cent of the list is bogus.
Apparently,nothing reached the farmers in most districts,and government officials in connivance with the seed dealers allegedly prepared bogus lists of beneficiaries and bills to pocket subsidy amounts. The bogus beneficiaries list apparently included names of persons who were either dead or were not residing in the village.
Giving examples from Abohar,Jakhar said one of the dealers in 2010 submitted a list of beneficiaries which included one Nand Lal,son of Birbal Ram,resident of Amarpura village,Abohar. This Nand Lal had died in 2008. The list was verified by the ADO of Abohar before the money was released, said Jakhar.
Similarly,another dealer submitted a list of beneficiaries which included one Gurnaib Singh,son of Paramjit Singh,resident of Roorianwali village,Fazilka tehsil. This person is behind bars and so the question of his purchasing the subsidised seed does not arise, added Jakhar.
The fraud has been done by dealers in connivance with officials. At least Rs 1,000 crore was looted, he added.
Terming the Punjab governments one-member inquiry report submitted last week as a sham,Jakhar said the report hid more than it revealed. It is a shame that an inquiry ordered,following the directions of the High Court,took its work lightly and limited itself to Abohar district only.