Chandigarh, May 29, 2020 (Yes Punjab News)
Union food processing industries minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal today urged union agriculture and farmers welfare minister Narendra Singh Tomar to depute a central team to Punjab to conduct an impartial probe into the intra-State Seed scam besides recommending suitable action to save farmers who had been duped by being sold spurious breeder seeds of paddy at three times their cost. She also urged that the case be forwarded to the CBI for a thorough probe.
Mrs Harsimrat Badal, who wrote to the Agriculture minister on this issue, said a massive Seed scam had been detected in Punjab which besides affecting the livelihood of farmers in the neighbouring States, could have pan-India ramifications also.
She said unscrupulous elements playing with the lives of farmers should be stopped in their tracks immediately even as she advocated the need to safeguard the interests of farmers who were the backbone of the country’s economy and were working to ensure food security in the time of of COVID-19 pandemic.
She said the scam involved the private sale of spurious PR-128 and PR-129 paddy seed varieties of the Punjab Agriculture University, (PAU) Ludhiana which were yet to be approved for commercial sale by private players.
She said PAU had supplied a very small quantity of the seeds to farmers in May 2020 at the rate of Rs 70 per kg but unscrupulous elements multiplied it illegally in October 2019 and sold truckloads of the spurious seed to unsuspecting farmers at the rate of Rs 200 per kg.
Mrs Badal informed the Agriculture minister that the seeds had not been supplied earlier to any seed grower and that the Punjab Seed Certification Authority had not registered any seed grower for verified seeds of PR-128 and PR-129.
She said likewise no approval had been obtained from the central government for commercial use of these seeds. “The seed is only likely to be available to seed growers for propagation in the paddy season of 2021-22, only after which will it available with private seed suppliers for sale”.
The Union minster said despite registration of a FIR by the State Agriculture department and seizure of spurious seeds of both paddy varieties from Brar Seed Store in Ludhiana on May 11 following a complaint by farmers no follow up action was taken in the case.
She said Brar Seeds even gave a statement that the seeds had been supplied to it by Karnal Agri Seeds, Gurdaspur. “Farmers are claiming the scamsters enjoy political patronage and that was why the police is not conducting further seizures of duplicate/spurious seed or making any arrests in the case”.
Mrs Badal informed the Agriculture minister that farmers felt the State police had developed cold feet in the case because the scamsters enjoyed official and political patronage of a powerful minister in Punjab.
“There is every danger that vital evidence which could incriminate the real king-pins in this multi-crore Seed scam could be wiped out. Only a central inquiry by your department as well as a CBI inquiry can unearth the entire conspiracy to cheat farmers at a time when they are working amidst a pandemic to provide food to the nation”, Mrs Badal added.