Aiming at the revenue collection from advertisements in its publications, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) is allegedly adopting the route of stalls in Kisan mela this year.
PAU campus is all set to organise its two-day Kisan Mela on March 14. However, people who are coming to get the stalls booked in Department of Extension Education of varsity are being compelled to first book an advertisement for the varsity’s publications.
PAU publishes monthly magazines ‘Changi Kheti’ and ‘Progressive Farming’. Apart from this various publications in different crop seasons like ‘Package of Practices for Cultivation of Vegetables’, ‘Package of Practices for Rabi and kharif crops’ and many others are too published at different intervals.
Talking to Newsline, owner of a tractor manufacturing company who came to book a stall said, “They asked me to book an advertisement first for their magazine. The stall I wanted to book was of Rs 44,000 which too will go to the varsity as revenue but they told me to book an advertisement even after I told them that I don’t want to.”
Similarly, a pesticide firm owner rued, “I wanted to book a stall but when they demanded an advertisement first, I left the department. No one can force us to book an advertisement as they are charging a lot for the stall itself.” This year the varsity has divided the stalls in campus in three sections as per rates and location- which are of Rs 25,000; Rs 32,000 and Rs 44,000 respectively.
While 40 stalls have been kept aside for PAU departments and government enterprises, rest of 234 stalls are for private companies. The rate of advertisements for PAU publications start at Rs 7,000 and complainants rued that ‘officials compelled them to book at least Rs 10,000 ad.’
“I was ready to bow to their demand and asked for the lowest ad price but they said it should be of Rs 10,000 minimum. This is completely unfair,” said a farmer from Moga who came to enquire about the stall prices.
When contacted, Dr MIS Gill, additional director extension education said, “I am not aware of any such practice going on in the department. A proper committee has been formed to allocate the stalls for the mela.”