November 14, 2017 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Chandigarh: It is learnt that instead of utilising central funds available for straw burning management, the Punjab government used the amount of Rs 49.08 crore to pay the salaries of its employees.
As reported by The Indian Express the central government released Rs 49.08 crore which is around 60 percent of the crop residue subsidy (state contributed the remaining 40%) in April 2017.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had sealed the accounts of Congress lead Punjab government for being in overdraft beyond the stipulated time. Its coffers were empty and even payment for salaries of its employees has become a challenge. The state government utilised the central grant for paying salaries, two senior government functionaries of two different departments reportedly confirmed to Indian Express.
This is not the first time the state government has diverted the Central funds for paying of the salaries of its employees, as this practice was started during the previous SAD (B)-BJP government.
Meanwhile, an official from Punjab agricultural department reportedly said that “We did not get any money. How can this department held accountable for not utilising it?”
“Punjab’s fund crunch was a “grave problem” and central grants were often used for running the state”, he further adds to his statement.
While releasing the grant, the Center had asked the states to facilitate farmers in procuring residue management machines and equipment such as Zero Till, Seed Drill, Happy Seeder, Straw Baler, Rotavator, Paddy Straw Chopper/ Mulcher , Gyro Rake, Straw Reaper, Shredder through, reads a quote from a report published in an Emglish vernacular.
Furthermore, a functionary while talking to the Indian Express (IE) stated that Rs 50 crores was too small for a state like Punjab that produced 180 lakh tonnes of paddy.