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Charanjit Channi’s minister Randeep Singh Nabha had alerted PM Modi about Rs 1,178 crore scam in own government

Charanjit Channi’s minister Randeep Singh Nabha had alerted PM Modi about Rs 1,178 crore scam in own government

Nabha sought CBI probe into misuse of agri subsidy

While in office, Punjab’s former Agriculture Minister Randeep Singh Nabha in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 8 blew the lid off a Rs 1,178-crore scam involving the crop residual machinery under his own government. He had also demanded a probe by the CBI.

Nabha has claimed the Central subsidy of Rs 1,178-crore was given over four years for buying machinery under the crop residue management (CRM) scheme to curb stubble burning. But the machinery mentioned on paper was not found on the ground, he said.

After the recent forest scam, there appears to be more trouble for the state Agriculture Department as the Enforcement Directorate started an investigation into the subsidy scam under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and sought records from the department last month. In a letter to the Director, Agriculture, Gurvinder Singh, on June 14, the Enforcement Directorage also pulled up agriculture officials for not supplying the details. Gurvinder Singh confirmed that he received the letter from the ED. In a demi-official letter written to the PM, Nabha had alleged embezzlement of funds and claimed that as a minister he was not provided any details of the machinery.

“When I took charge of the department and held a review, I learnt that the Government of India had sent Rs 1,178.47 crore under the CRM scheme from 2018-19 till 2021-22,” he said.

He said on November 8, 2021, he sought information about the scheme and the division of funds for each district, but no data was provided to him. “No information was given even after I discussed the matter with the Financial Commissioner (Agriculture).”

The former minister further pointed out that the issue was even discussed in the Cabinet but still no action was taken. “I handed over a proposal to the Chief Minister (Charanjit Singh Channi) in the Cabinet meeting, but no action was taken. It looks like either there was embezzlement or intentional procedural lapses.”

Nabha had requested for a CBI inquiry in the case. “Officers from top to bottom are responsible for the misuse of funds. No action has been taken on repeated letters. Strict action should be taken in the case so that in future funds are not misused.”

He also pointed to the role of Agriculture Department’s Joint Director (Engineering Wing), who headed the scheme for five years from 2016 to 2021. Nabha said the scam took place before he assumed office. He hasn’t got any response from the Prime Minister’s Office as yet, he added.

©The Tribune

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