The rain god showed no mercy to the farmers who came from various districts and states to visit the Kisan Mela of Punjab Agricultural University on Friday. The campus was waterlogged in no time as it started raining cats and dogs around 12.45 pm when the mela was its peak.
The worst-hit were small farmers and vendors who thronged to the campus to sell handmade items. Even the main mela ground where all stalls were put up was entirely waterlogged and hoardings put up by farmers and companies were uprooted due to thundershowers.
PAU failed to go by its own weather forecast which said on Thursday that “cloudy weather and thundershowers are expected in next 24 hours in Ludhiana and adjoining areas”.
While the farmers were seen running for shelter to protect their seeds, saplings and other goods purchased from the mela, the vendors were seen trying to protect their raw material and eatables from the rain.
Garbage was strewn on the entire campus after waterlogged roads of the varsity made it impossible for traffic to move. Traffic snarls were a big problem at all gates of PAU, especially gate number 1, 2 and 4.
PAU provided two types of stalls for the exhibitors: one for Rs 1,000 and the other for Rs 5,000 depending on location and construction material. The small stalls, which were for Rs 1,000 each, were damaged in the rain.
Hariya, an owner of a small cart selling fast food, said, “I spent Rs 1,000 on potatoes, bread etc. Now everything has become wet. It cannot be consumed. Today’s earnings are all gone.”
Similarly, various vends of sugarcane juice, lemon soda, fruit juice, ice-lollies and other street food were devastated in the rain.
The farmers were a worried lot; they were seen protecting not themselves but bags of seeds purchased. “Seeds will be gone if they are soaked in water. Moisture damages the seeds. I had been standing in queue since 8 in the morning to get seeds and now I do not know how I will carry them to Amritsar,” said Harjot Singh, a farmer.
After continuous downpour for an hour, the farmers and companies were seen pumping out water from their stalls and sale of seeds was resumed. However, the varsity claimed there was no big damage to the mela due to rain.
H S Dhaliwal, director extension education (PAU), said: “It rained hard but there was no major loss. Farmers thronged to the mela even after rain and waterlogging problem was also solved soon. Since it was natural weather occurrence, varsity is not responsible for the damaged stalls.”
He added that “forecast was checked beforehand which only said weather will be cloudy”. “I was not sure if it will rain or not. But it rained hard,” he said.