The Punjab government has said it has initiated a vigilance probe into a Rs 150-crore scam in the distribution of crop residue management machines among farmers during the previous dispensation led by the Congress.
Agriculture Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, in a statement on Wednesday, said during a physical verification, a total of 11,275 machines were not found with the beneficiaries and ordered a thorough probe into it.
He said the central sector scheme of promotion of agriculture mechanisation for in-situ management of crop residue was implemented by the previous government from 2018-19 to 2021-22.
He said according to 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, a total of 90,422 machines for crop residue management have been provided to the beneficiary farmers, registered farmer groups, cooperative societies, farmer producers' organisations and panchayats between 2018-19 and 2021-22.
Of these, 83,986 machines were provided by the department of agriculture and the remaining by registered cooperative societies.
Following reports that many of these machines provided on subsidy were not made available to eligible farmers, Dhaliwal said, he directed the agriculture department to conduct a physical verification.
During the physical verification which completed on August 16, a total of 11,275 machines were found to be not with the beneficiaries, he said.