Srinagar, October 16: A multi-crore scam has surfaced in the Horticulture Planning & Marketing Department (HPMD) which dates back to the time of Omar Abdullah government where in the shop sites which were actually allotted to poor farmers and other genuine stakeholders for the trade of fruits and vegetables were sold to influential people.
As per sources, Government in the year 2013 and 2014 provided hundreds of shop sites that were developed by Government at wholesale fruit and vegetable mandis in Rajouri, Kathua, Bishnah, Akhnoor, Udhampur and Chadwal areas of Jammu province under a Centrally sponsored scheme. The HPMD department had to allot these shops sites at Government run mandis to growers and local people into the respective trades in Jammu province. The shop spaces were supposed to subsequently be developed into shops, where from they could run their business.
But the officials of HPMD department allegedly involved in mass scale criminal conspiracies of cheating the Government sold these shop sites to influential persons which with political connections and other officers of the then government.
Sources in the Vigilance Organization Jammu (VOJ) said that selling these shops actually meant for the poor people into the state is the violation of the Government guidelines. It is suspected that the then Assistant Director and then Director of Horticulture Planning & Marketing Department played a major role in this shady deal.
As per a vigilance official, the State Vigilance Organisation has received several complaints regarding this scam one of which says that the Deputy Director allotted the space to kith and kin of politically influential people and to those personally known to him. The people owning the shops includes brother of Assistant Grading Marketing Officer, father of Area Marketing Officer, father of Grading Inspector, and a retired HPMD employee.
With many infulential people involved in the scam, the department is getting pressurised to hush up the case but this official confirms that the SVO has started “preliminary investigations” while the full-fledged probe would be started only once they get a nod from the Government.
With inputs from ET