Eight of the 11 paddy seed samples confiscated during a raid from the private ‘Brar Seed Store’ have failed germination test, as per the report from Punjab State Seed Laboratory. The store is located opposite the Gate No. 1 of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana.
Overall, 10 of 11 samples failed the quality test in different categories. In the most crucial ‘germination percentage’, eight samples failed the test indicating poor produce if sown.
As per the report, three samples of PR 128 seeds recorded germination of 70, 71 and 74 per cent only whereas the minimum requirement is 80 per cent for good crop. Other varieties from the store, which failed the test include BR-105 and BR-141. While one sample of BR-105 has recorded 69 per cent germination, three of BR 141 have recorded 71, 46 and 47 per cent.
Meanwhile, samples of PR 129 seeds also failed the test in different categories. Two samples were found prone to a disease smut (locally known as bunt). All seed samples tested were being sold as ‘Truthfully Labelled’ (TL) seeds by the private store.
“Of 11 samples sent for testing which we confiscated from Brar Seed Store, 10 failed the test. Eight failed in germination category. This indicates that seeds sold to farmers were spurious,” said Narinder Singh Benipal, chief agricultural officer, Ludhiana
A senior official at PAU said, “As per the Indian Minimum Seed Certification Standards, paddy seeds should have germination power of at least 80 per cent and purity of 98 per cent. Any seed recording germination percentage below 80 should not have even made it to the markets. It is illegal to sell them. They are spurious and it seems farmers were duped.”
Both PR 128 and PR 129 are the new paddy varieties officially developed by the PAU and the private store was allegedly selling these seeds to the farmers at inflated rates. PAU has denied providing ‘source seed’ of these two new varieties to any private company and sold TL seeds in small quantities (around 3,300 quintal of both varieties in total) directly to farmers this season for the first time. While PAU sold them for Rs 70 per kg, the store was allegedly selling them for Rs 200-250 per kg following which farmers complained and store was raided by agriculture department officials. Subsequently, FIR was registered against the store owner by Ludhiana Police. However, the issue took political turn after Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) claimed that Gurdaspur-based Karnal Agri Seeds was related to Congress minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, an allegation that was categorically denied by the latter. SAD alleged that it was ‘multi-crore paddy seed scam’ and demanded CBI probe.
Meanwhile, Ludhiana police commissioner Rakesh Agrawal has constituted a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to probe matter headed by DCP (law and order) Ashwani Kapoor. Other members of SIT are ADCP (special branch) Jagatpreet Singh, ACP (Civil Lines) Jatinder Chopra and SI Richa Rani, SHO division number 5 police station.
As per the FIR that has been registered by Ludhiana police (copy with The Indian Express) at division number 5 police station on May 11, Brar Seed Store owner Hardyal Singh has been booked under sections 2, 3,7 of the Essential Commodities Act, section 3 of Seeds (Control) Order, 1983 and section 420 of IPC, on the complaint of Ludhiana chief agricultural officer.
FIR says that store was raided after a farmer from village Maheshri of Moga complained that seeds of PAU varieties were being sold there at inflated rates. During the checking, 185 bags of 30-kg packing, 27 bags of 5-kg packing and 67 bags of 10-kg packing of PR 128 were recovered from the store.
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