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Vigilance probe ordered into Punjab pesticide scam

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Chandigarh: Punjab on Thursday ordered a vigilance probe into the multi-crore rupee pesticide scam in the state which has led to losses running into millions of rupees to cotton-growing farmers in the state.

The move came after the state government defended the issue for the past few days.

“Taking cognizance of the news report regarding another pesticide scam in the Phillaur region of Jalandhar district, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today ordered an enquiry to get at the bottom of the case,” a spokesman of the Chief Minister’s Office said on Thursday.

Badal asked the DGP (Vigilance) to conduct an inquiry into the matter and submit its report within a month.

The Punjab government has been under fire from various quarters over the pesticide purchase mess which led to loss of hundreds of crore of rupees for the state’s cotton farmers, mostly in the Malwa belt of south-west Punjab.

Badal on Monday announced a compensation of Rs 600 crore to the farmers affected by ‘white fly’ attack which has destroyed cotton crop in almost 60 percent area under cotton cultivation.

Farmers are up in arms against the state government for its failure to help them and for providing poor quality pesticides. The opposition has demanded a judicial probe into the pesticide purchase scam.

A war of words over the pesticide scam in Punjab escalated on Monday as Agriculture Minister Tota Singh blamed a senior agriculture department official for the procurement of spurious pesticide to deal with white fly pest attack on the cotton crop in the state.

After agriculture department director Mangal Singh Sandhu’s statement in a section of the media that put the blame on Tota Singh and even pointed to Chief Minister Badal’s involvement in decision-making on purchase of the pesticide, the minister on Monday said the officer was muddling the facts to save his own skin.

The state government removed Sandhu as agriculture director on September 17. Sandhu’s shifting was, however, put on hold by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday.

The opposition Congress on Monday demanded a judicial probe into the pesticide scam and sought an immediate resignation of the agriculture minister.

(IANS)

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Concerned Over The Rise of Drug Usage In The State: Himachal Governor

A three-day horse trade-cum-exhibition was organised before the beginning of the Lavi Fair.

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There are countless mothers who have been constantly tormented by drug-dependent adolescent children. Pixabay

Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Devvrat on Sunday expressed concern over the rise in drug addiction, particularly among the youth in the state, and called for concerted efforts to tackle the menace.

“Effective steps have been taken by the government and police administration, but we all need to work together in this direction,” he said at the inauguration of the centuries-old Lavi Fair in Rampur town, which was once a centre of barter trade with Tibet.

He called upon the people to promote natural farming. The state government has made a provision of Rs 25 crore to promote natural or organic farming to produce chemical-free food.

The 400-year-old Lavi Fair has undergone a sea change with the rural folk’s changing lifestyles and aspirations, resulting in a greater sale of gadgets and automobiles than traditional items such as farm implements, livestock and dry fruits.

Himachal
‘The traders from across the border have stopped coming’ Pixabay

The fair dates back to the time when Raja Kehari Singh of Rampur Bushahr state signed a treaty to promote trade with Tibet.

Rampur, 120 kilometres from state capital Shimla, was once a major trade centre as it is located on the old silk route connecting Afghanistan, Tibet and Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.

“People have stopped buying farm implements, horses and sheep. Now, they prefer to shop luxury goods like television sets and automobiles,” trader Ishwar Goyal told IANS.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur will preside over the concluding session of the fair on November 14.

Another trader Deepak Negi said Rampur was a centre of trade before the 1962 India-China war.

The traders from Tibet used to bring raw wool, butter, herbs and leather products and bartered them for wheat, rice, farm implements and livestock.

himachal
Rampur, 120 kilometres from state capital Shimla, was once a major trade centre as it is located on the old silk route connecting Afghanistan. Pixabay

“Now, the traders from across the border have stopped coming. Indian multinational companies come here to sell their products. The fair has largely lost its relevance,” he added.

A three-day horse trade-cum-exhibition was organised before the beginning of the Lavi Fair. The main attraction during the exhibition were the Chamurthi horses – an endangered species known as the ‘Ship Of the Cold Desert’. Being a surefooted animal, it is mainly used for transporting goods in the Himalayas.

Also Read: Quitting Junk Food May Cause You to Suffer Withdrawal Symptoms Similar to Drug Addition

The Chamurthi horse traces its origin to the Tibet region. In India, it’s bred in the villages of Himachal Pradesh bordering China.

The fair sees several folk artistes from Punjab and Himachal Pradesh perform. (IANS)