Missing subsidised machines: 900 Punjab agri dept staff go on indefinite strike - Hindustan Times
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Missing subsidised machines: 900 Punjab agri dept staff go on indefinite strike

By, Chandigarh
Jan 25, 2024 08:42 AM IST

At least 900 staff members of the department, including officials of the rank of development officers and sub-inspectors, were served notices last week after 11,000 subsidised machines of total 92,000 given to farmers between years 2018 and 2022 could not be tracked on the premises of the beneficiary farmers

The agriculture department staff and officials, who were served notices to explain their role in missing machines that were given to farmers on subsidy for paddy stubble management, on Wednesday announced to go on an indefinite strike.

The association also held a meeting with agriculture minister Gurmeet Singh Khuddian on Wednesday. (File)
The association also held a meeting with agriculture minister Gurmeet Singh Khuddian on Wednesday. (File)

At least 900 staff members of the department, including officials of the rank of development officers and sub-inspectors, were served notices last week after 11,000 subsidised machines of total 92,000 given to farmers between years 2018 and 2022 could not be tracked on the premises of the beneficiary farmers.

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All those served the notice have given a report about the missing machines. “If some farmers have sold the machines or have replaced them with other farm machines, we are not to blame for this. We only had reported about the missing machines and now the blame is being pinned upon us,” said Agriculture Department Staff Association chairman Jaswant Singh Brar.

He said, “According to farmers who have sold the machines, they claim that they had also contributed towards the cost of the machines and if the department wants the machines to be returned, they should also return their share of funds,” he said.

Brar said some farmers said they sold their harvest machines with their combine machines and even if it has been sold, it is fulfilling the purpose of straw management at some other location.

He said the entire staff of the department will be on pen down strike this week and from the next week, they would intensify their stir by staging a protest outside the department headquarters in Mohali.

Brar said the association also held a meeting with agriculture minister Gurmeet Singh Khuddian on Wednesday, who reportedly assured that once the innocence of the staff members was proved, there would be no action.

“This is not acceptable as we have not committed any crime,” he said. The subsidy to the farmers was given by way of direct benefit transfer and the role of the department staff was restricted only to making a list of beneficiaries and processing their applications, he said

Khuddian was not available for comments and according to department director Jaswant Singh, the staff must reply to the notices. “They can explain their position and if not found guilty, no action will be initiated against them.”

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