Heavy rains and weeds in the fields proved to be a deadly combination for Punjab Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor Dr B S Dhillon, who was repeatedly rebuked by Agricultural Minister Tota Singh for the ‘loopholes’ on the inaugural day of the Kisan Mela on Friday.
A closed-door meeting followed Tota’s Singh departure, after which a furious Dhillon ordered the transfer of two scientists from the Agricultural Meteorology department, who were reportedly responsible for maintaining fields near Gate Number 4, a spot specifically pointed out by the minister. Sources present during the meeting said the ‘VC questioned why fields near the gate were not maintained’.
Those transferred include assistant agronomist Sandeep Singh Sandhu and agro-meteorologist Ritu. Dr B S Dhillon did not respond to calls and messages, but R S Sidhu, registrar, confirmed the transfer. “I cannot comment on the reason, but orders of transfer have been issued,” he said. Warning letters have also been issued to some scientists from agro met department, said sources.
S S Sandhu, meanwhile, confirmed his transfer but refused to comment on the reasons. Tota Singh was reportedly upset after the waterproof pandal failed to save him from the rains, shortly after he began his address, causing him to wind up early.
As part of his address, he announced ‘he will give funds for building a shelter on open auditorium of PAU.’ He also taunted the V-C that ‘PAU was not able to go by its own weather forecast, which said it will rain on Friday.’
Talking to The Indian Express, Tota Singh confirmed that ‘he was unhappy with presentation of fields near Gate Number 4’. “I was passing from that gate and someone told me morning walkers also come in from here. The cotton, maize, mustard and green manure fields were poorly maintained with wild grass and weeds in abundance. I am also a farmer and I cannot see my fields in such bad shape. I told the V-C to maintain them,” the minister told The Indian Express.
Sources said that twice Singh pointed out the poorly maintained fields. “On one hand we put up Kisan Mela and on the other hand we have poor fields. This is not acceptable,” Tota Singh added. However, he added ‘his intention was not to get any scientist transferred from PAU.’
He added that ‘he told the V-C to check the weather forecast in advance’ before organising such melas. “It is the farmers and small vendors who know what losses are after the mela was washed out,” said Singh.
“The agro met department was the target during the meeting. We sent the forecast on September 11 that thundershowers are expected in and around Ludhiana in the next 24 hours. But it is not our mistake if the university did not go by them,” said a professor from the Agro Met department.