Parliamentary committee’s recommendation a shot in the arm for Haryana IAS officer
In a rare act, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture has come to whistleblower Ashok Khemka’s support, ordering a Central government inquiry into the pesticide scam that the Haryana IAS officer uncovered.
The committee also stood by the views of the IAS officer in another scam — in the purchase of seeds — again highlighted by Mr. Khemka. The Haryana government continues to battle against this.
The Hindu accessed the 61st report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee. It has ordered that an inquiry be held to investigate the “propriety and legality of the agriculture department of Haryana spending the Centre’s money on RAXIL, a specific brand of Bayer Crop Science India, for unapproved treatment.”
It said the investigation must find out if there was any “propriety and legality in the action of Bayer Crop Science India publishing the recommendations of some State agricultural universities in its advertisements where RAXIL’s effectiveness in treating Karnal Bunt diseases in wheat crop is claimed.”
The committee also asked for an investigation to ascertain why Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agriculture University recommended Bayer’s branded pesticide for Karnal Bunt diseases.
The committee’s intervention comes as a shot in the arm for the beleaguered IAS officer, who has been shunted out and chargesheeted several times after he first raised an alarm about land deals involving Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and subsequently about alleged scams in the Haryana Seeds Development Corporation Limited, where he had been posted.
The matter is before the High Court, with the State government, having shunted out Mr. Khemka yet again, defended its decisions on the controversial purchase of pesticides and seeds.
Mr. Khemka has been chargesheeted in several alleged violations of Haryana service rules.
The parliamentary panel, while reviewing the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, was petitioned by Mr. Khemka in which he alleged that Central government subsidies and funds had been embezzled and wasted by Haryana government officials in the purchase of seeds and illegal pesticides in connivance with private companies.
The panel, headed by Basudev Acharia of the CPI(M) and having members from across the political spectrum from both Houses, called for evidence even as the Union Agriculture Ministry came out in Mr. Khemka’s favour.
Based on the evidence gathered through testimony, the standing committee took a final position in favour of Mr. Khemka.