Lapses in onion seed procurement: More revealing facts surface

Bhubaneswar: More revealing facts have surfaced about the gross irregularities in Onion seed procurement, which was reported by Odisha Television. While the Agriculture department is advocating for payment of pending dues to West Bengal Hybrid Seeds & Bio Tech Private Limited, the main culprit behind providing sub-standard seeds; officials of the same department are now claiming that the company is fraud.

The company cannot be located at the address furnished by it, claimed Pravasi Sethi, the joint-director of the Agriculture department. In 2011, the company had provided seeds, which were also found to be sub-standard after investigation by the department; Sethi added stating further that though action has been taken against the company, it is somehow being able to extract money from the government by moving the court.

However, speaking on the matter, company MD Arun Agrawal said “ We are being harassed. We have supplied the seeds and we have received no complaints from the government regarding the quality of the seeds. The case is still sub-judice, and the authorities are earning bank interest by withholding our payment deliberately.”

Notably, the Agriculture department approached the Vigilance department to probe the matter. However, no comments could be obtained from the Vigilance department on the progress of the investigation.

Meanwhile, ruling-BJD spokesperson Amar Sathpaty said “In order to maintain transparency, a Vigilance probe has been ordered and after the investigation necessary steps will be taken.”

Notably, the lapses came to fore following the investigation report of the State Agriculture department on the irregularities in tender fixing for seed procurement. The report has pointed out lapses on many counts in the tendering process. However, interestingly the State agriculture department is advocating payment of pending dues to the company which is alleged to have been a beneficiary of such lapses and supplied substandard seeds.