Quintals of seeds meant for distribution to poor farmers were purchased and supplied, but merely on paper, by top officials of Uttar Pradesh government.
Signatures of officials and the seal of government were blatantly used in ‘forged purchase receipts’ to siphon off funds. A preliminary probe has indicated that a major part of the scam was committed during the Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav’s tenures as chief minister.
As of now, forged receipts worth Rs 16.56 crore have been traced. This could just be the tip of the iceberg. Concerned about the misuse of public funds, the Yogi Adityanath government has instructed the Economic Offences Wing to find out whether the seeds scam was limited to Kanpur (state warehouse) or was spread across other districts of the Uttar Pradesh as well.
Speaking to IANS, Uma Shankar Pathak, a senior official of the Agriculture Department said that the Kanpur police has already registered an FIR on the basis of the preliminary enquiry of the UP Seed and Development Corporation. The scam was unearthed last year when the seed corporation sent its bills to the Agriculture Department for payment. During routine verification, a few bills worth Rs 99 lakh were found to be forged. Later, a departmental enquiry was initiated to probe the scandal.
Sources said that during Mayawati’s tenure as chief minister (2007-2012) and later in Akhilesh Yadav’s tenure (2012-2017), bills amounting to Rs 16.56 crore had been found forged. “We cannot rule out the involvement of any Minister or top bureaucrat in the scam. It appears that there was connivance at the top,” said an official.
The sources said that during the enquiry, which was focused on the Kanpur warehouse, it was discovered that receipts belonging to two series bearing numbers 9080 and 7188 had been forged. A few key officials and lower rung employees of the store purchased and supplied seeds only on the paper. Later, the forged bills were endorsed by senior officials and payments were made.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has instructed secretaries of important ministries which have large expenditure to focus on internal audits and ensure that the government runs efficiently. The Chief Minister has already suspended several corrupt officials in the Animal Husbandry and Chakbandi departments which have become dens of corruption. Important cases related of corruption like Gomti river water front project and mining scam were earlier handed over to the CBI by the Chief Minister.