Punjab Vigilance to probe farm machinery scam : The Tribune India

Punjab Vigilance to probe farm machinery scam

Punjab Vigilance to probe farm machinery scam

The Punjab Government today ordered a Vigilance inquiry into the alleged farm machinery scam. - File photo

Tribune News Service

Vishav Bharti

Chandigarh, August 17

The Punjab Government today ordered a Vigilance inquiry into the alleged farm machinery scam. Agriculture Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal said at least 90,422 machines were reportedly “distributed” among farmers to manage stubble. Of these, 11,275 were found missing.

He said during an initial investigation, it appeared nearly Rs 150 crore had been embezzled. The Centre had provided Rs 1,178 crore subsidy between 2018-19 and 2021-22 for buying machinery for crop residual management under the In-Situ Crop Residue Management Scheme. The Tribune had highlighted how a large number of beneficiaries remained only on paper and the subsidy amount was embezzled by officials in connivance with local leaders. Following this, the state government on July 1 ordered an audit and physical verification of the machines.

Sources said since it was a centrally-funded scheme, the list of beneficiaries was to be cleared by the deputy commissioners concerned. However in several districts, the lists were provided by MLAs, they said.

The sources said names of top bureaucrats who served the department during the past four years could crop up. The Finance Department is already probing the matter as the grant was not deposited in the state’s consolidated fund, but came into the account of the Agriculture Director.

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