1. Farm Mechanization

11,275 Crop Residue Management Machines in Punjab Go Missing; Government Begins Investigation

Agriculture minister, Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal said in a statement during a physical verification that a total of 11,275 machines were not found with the beneficiaries and ordered a comprehensive inquiry into it.

Sandeep Kr Tiwari
Dhaliwal said on August 16, during the physical verification, a total of 11,275 machines were not found with the beneficiaries.
Dhaliwal said on August 16, during the physical verification, a total of 11,275 machines were not found with the beneficiaries.

On Wednesday, the Punjab government announced that it has initiated a vigilance investigation into a Rs 150 crore scam involving the distribution of crop residue management equipment to farmers under the previous administration, which was led by Congress.

Agriculture minister, Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal said in a statement during a physical verification that a total of 11,275 machines were not found with the beneficiaries and ordered a comprehensive inquiry into it.

He said the previous government executed the central sector scheme for the promotion of agricultural mechanization for in-situ management of crop residue from 2018–19 to 2021–22.

He further said that according to an initial investigation by the agriculture department, it appears that a sum of Rs 125-150 crore has been misused.

Giving details, the minister said under this scheme between 2018–19 and 2021–22, beneficiary farmers, registered farmer groups, cooperative societies, farmer producers' organizations, and panchayats received a total of 90,422 machines for crop residue management.

Out of which, the department provided 83,986 pieces of equipment and the remaining were supplied by the registered cooperative groups.

Dhaliwal said that he directed the agriculture department to conduct a physical verification because many of these machines that were given out as subsidies weren't made available to eligible farmers.

He said on August 16, during the physical verification, a total of 11,275 machines were not found with the beneficiaries.

A few days ago, Minister said that farmers may easily apply for subsidies using the online portal (agrimachinerypb.com). It is a comprehensive site that covers every step, starting with application submission, equipment selection, and approving the payout of subsidies.

The Minister urged Punjabi farmers to unite and apply for benefits under the Scheme so that the harmful practice of paddy stubble burning can be put to an end. "The increased availability of in-situ and ex-situ crop residue management equipment would reduce air pollution and improve soil health, ultimately reducing the need for fertilizers and the retention of beneficial microorganisms in the fields," he said.

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