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Spurious pesticide: Punjab acts against agriculture officers

Chandigarh: On a day when Punjab’s agriculture director Mangal Singh Sandhu was arrested on charges of cheating and corruption in a multi-crore-rupee pesticide purchase scam, the state government placed him under suspension. Two other senior officers of the agriculture department have been chargesheeted.
“The Punjab government has placed director agriculture Mangal Singh Sandhu under suspension with immediate effect and the deputy director (cotton extension) Parminder Singh and then joint director agriculture Balwinder Singh Sohal have been chargesheeted as a major punishment under the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1970,” a spokesman of the Chief Minister’s Office said on Monday.
Sandhu, whose official residence was raided by a team of Punjab Police late on Sunday night, was arrested in the early hours of Monday and taken to Bathinda for further investigation. A court in Bathinda, 240 km from here, sent Sandhu to three days in police custody.
“The decision (to suspend Sandhu and chargesheet the others) has been taken in the wake of the enquiry report submitted to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal this evening (Monday).
“The inquiry officer has reported serious irregularities and violations in purchase of pesticides by the director. As a result, the matter needs to be investigated further to ascertain reasons for such irregularities,” the spokesman said.
“The entire report has been referred to the director general of police (DGP) for further investigation since he has already constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into spurious sale of pesticides in the state,” he said.
Divulging details of the inquiry report, the spokesman further revealed that the inquiry officer observed that then director agriculture preferred to purchase Oberan pesticide at his own level, thus ignoring the orders of Agriculture Minister Tota Singh.
The agriculture director also did not get the purchase examined technically, did not adopt e-tendering process and did not seek approval from the competent authority while exceeding his financial powers.

IANS