Cong demands CBI probe into seeds scam

Bhubaneswar: Opposition Congress walked out of Odisha Assembly on Wednesday demanding a CBI probe into what it called a multi-crore seeds scam even as the state government promised a proper investigation into irregularities in supply of seeds to farmers.

"Yes, there has been delay in supply of groundnut seeds to farmers. This happened due to certain unavoidable situation and adverse climate," agriculture minister Debi Prasad Mishra said while replying the debate.

Though the minister admitted irregularities and delay, he rejected any corruption in procurement and production of paddy and non-paddy seeds. "The state government will soon provide about 90,000 quintal of groundnut seeds to farmers soon," the minister said rejecting probe either by CBI or House Committee as demanded by Congress.

The minister also termed allegation of farmers suicide in Odisha as "baseless". "No farmer in the state has committed suicide due to cultivation related issues," Mishra said after Congress members walked out of the House.

The issue was discussed in the House through an adjournment motion where opposition parties alleged a Rs 1,000 crore seeds scam. "We suspect corruption of Rs 1,000 crore in seeds procurement and production," alleged Congress Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan.

Alleging that seeds scarcity was "man-made", he said while the government at a meeting decided to start groundnut seeds distribution from October 7, surprisingly the pricing committee held its meeting on October 10.

"This shows the state government's lack of sincerity in timely supply of seeds among farmers," Harichandan said dubbing the BJD government as "anti-farmer."

The government must frame criminal charges against the officials and seeds supplying agencies involved in scam, they demanded.