CRORES SWINDLED IN AGRICULTURE DEPTT
RTI Reveals Fake Signatures, Thumb Impressions Of ‘Beneficiaries’ Of Free Seeds, Plants
Srinagar, Aug 20: In a major concern, information sought under the Right to Information Act has revealed how fake signatures and thumb impressions have allegedly been used of “beneficiaries” of seeds and saplings purchased by the Agriculture Department for crores of rupees in the past few years.
In three villages of district Budgam—Branwar, Jabad and Neegu—hundreds of villagers have been shown to have taken seeds, fertilizers and plant saplings, supposed to be distributed by the Agriculture Department free of cost under various schemes, including some centrally-sponsored ones.
But the documents, copies of which are with Greater Kashmir, reveal countless thumb impressions made against “beneficiaries.” There is nothing to substantiate that the thumb impressions are of the people against which they have been made, primarily in the wake of some impressions which have been made against some educated people. On different pages, there is a clutter of thumb impressions.
The RTI application was filed by Mushtaq Ahmad Mir son of Abdul Karim Mir of Neegul Branwar in the Agriculture Sub-Division Office Chadoora. “I filed the application last year, seeking details of various schemes/subsidies given by the department and its implementation in villages Branwar, Neegu, Jabad in Chadoora Tehsil. The information was not provided to me, forcing me to file a complaint before the State Information Commission. The information was finally given,” says Mir, in his representation to the Chief Judicial Magistrate Budgam.
He mentions: “The department claims to have distributed thousands of kicker, poplar, fruit plants and fertilizers to villagers. But most of them have not reached the public.”
The CJM has asked the SHO Chadoora for action, which, however, is yet to be initiated.
It is alleged that the local officials and Numberdars, who have attested documents of seeds and fertilizers distribution, have managed forged signatures and thumb impressions to draw money against the distributed material—something which, according to observers, requires an in-depth inquiry.
Some of the educated people, against whom thumb impressions have been made in the documents, include Muhammad Abdullah of Jabad, Ghulam Nabi Najar, Muhammad Ashraf. In Branwar tehsil, thousands of trees and hundreds of kilograms of fertilizers have been showed as “distributed.”
In another RTI application, filed by Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat in the Directorate of Agriculture Kashmir, it is reveled that in the past four years, seeds worth crores of rupees have been procured by the directorate. The information reveals that in the past four years, potato seeds worth Rs 60 crores have been procured. This is besides the procurement of other seeds like Paddy (100 crores), Peas (25 crores) and Oats (63 crores) during this period for distribution to villagers.
But it is often reported that material doesn’t reach the real beneficiaries. Just a few months back, a legislator from Handwara raised his voice against the “shortage of seeds” in the district. Similarly, people from different villages often happen to visit newspaper offices with the plea that the Agriculture Department is not providing them seeds.
According to sources, a case about the procurement of hybrid seeds was being inquired by the State Vigilance Commission some years back. It was observed that hybrid seeds were not procured in a proper manner. “It was alleged that these seeds were procured from local seed vendors on low prices when it is only some multi-national companies who develop them. And these hybrid seeds happen to be very costly. So it was alleged that officials in the Agriculture Department drew payments against hybrid seeds when local seeds were distributed among farmers,” the sources, privy to the probe, said.
“The matter must be thoroughly probed. I have visited many villages in Budgam and Shopain where people complained of shortage of seeds,” said Dr Muzaffar. “The RTI revelations must be thoroughly probed and the responsibility should be fixed. This misuse of money has to end. The Minister for Agriculture must order a time-bound inquiry into the issue and see where the lapses take place.”
Lastupdate on : Sat, 20 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 20 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 21 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST
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