Feed and fodder Scam detected in state’s Rural Department
Chandigarh – The reason for roaming about of destitute cows on the roads was not only grabbing of land meant for grazing of cows but also embezzlement of the funds released for the construction of gaushalas. The funds were for feed, fodder and medicines for cows. As a result, no place is left for cows to stay. According to official information, about Rs 40 crore was released for the construction of a cattle pound in every district across the state.
But except in five districts, there are complaints of embezzlement of funds in rest of the districts. Vigilance investigation in the case was also recommended, which, however, could not be started. The concept was to house stray cattle which otherwise posed a serious threat of human life and also cause a heavy damage to crops. Out of the released fund of Rs 40 crore, the Rural Development, the Planning Board and the Animal Husbandry Department had put their share of Rs 20 crore, Rs 16 crore and Rs 4 crore, respectively. For the construction of gaushala, Rs 1.68 crore had been released to each Deputy Commissioner.
This fund was meant for maintenance, feed and fodder, construction of new sheds. According to reports in government records, work in Mansa, Muktsar, Pathankot, Fazilka and Moga had been satisfactory, but in other districts, specifically Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Kapurthala, Gurdaspur, Ropar and Tarn Taran, misuse and irregularities had been detected. An investigation was got conducted by the Punjab Gau Sewa Commission and it found embezzlement in the report sent to the state government. Six sheds were to be constructed for cows, but only single had been made in each district.
Only half of the funds had been spent on the feed and fodder for these animals and the remaining fund was allegedly misappropriated. At some places, cows have starved to death. Interestingly, a Panchayat Officer in Nawanshahr district had to return Rs 12.50 lakh after the documents were examined and the same thing happened in Hoshiarpur district, where a Rural Development Officer had to deposit Rs 4.50 lakh after the papers in his possession were scrutinised. But the government showed lack of interest in probing the matter.
Only in Gurdaspur district, a probe into the alleged misuse of funds in the construction of the district’s only cattle pound at Kalanaur was initiated by the Vigilance Bureau due to some political rivalry where it was found that an Akali leader was involved in the construction work.