When prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that his government would ensure timely execution of infrastructure projects, he would not have known that only a scheduled visit by him would prod the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) to mend its roads.
For over a year, students of PAU demanded that roads to campus be repaired. They had gheraoed the office of the vice-chancellor and raised slogans for this but to no avail. But a few days after it became clear that Modi will be visiting the campus, there are now smooth roads with not a pothole in sight.
“We had warned authorities that the condition of roads were so bad that it would only be a matter of time before accidents happened. The roads were pathetic in front of hostels. We protested for hours but not a finger was lifted. Today all potholes have vanished. Some roads have been re-carpeted and others even re-laid. Earlier they told us that funds are awaited from Mandi board. So from where did the funds suddenly appear in a week?,” said a student at the university.
But it seems only the more visible part of the campus received the university’s attention.
“The roads leading to CIPHET building in campus are still in a state of disrepair. Only those roads which will be visible during the PM visit have been renovated. The rest of the work is commendable. But all this for a person who will come to the campus for one day. What about students who live here 24/7? They were ignored,” said a PAU teacher.
An official from PAU engineering department said that funds from the Punjab Mandi Board had arrived a while ago but work was stopped due to rains. As soon as news of prime minister’s visit came in, higher authorities forced a gear change, he added.
“A proposal of Rs 2 crore was sent for repairing roads. We recently received Rs 90 lakh. Work has been started,” said engineering department official.
Another student posted on Facebook, “We request PM Modi ji to stay with us in the campus for a month and attend classes. So that everything including our food, mess system, hostel facilities etc get excellent like roads and we do not waste our time on protests. When we raised roads issue, authorities filled the potholes with sand and it eroded in rainwater. It was an eyewash. Now, they have been done the way it should be. Thanks Modi ji. Maybe now our VC realized that PM can even cancel central government funds for PAU seeing such roads.”
University sealed, exams postponed
The PAU registrar declared the university shut on Monday and Tuesday. The campus will be ‘sealed’ in view of security arrangements. The mid-term examinations have been rescheduled. Hostel students have been instructed to avoid roaming outside for two days except in ‘dire emergency’. “We have been told that no guests should visit us for two days and we should be in our rooms,” said a hosteler. KS Sangha, president PAU Teachers Association said, “The government should think before choosing an educational institute as venue for such programmes. The entire exam schedule has been affected for few hours of award ceremony.”
PAU invites Modi to see ‘achievements’
PK Khanna, registrar PAU, confirmed to The Indian Express that a formal invite was extended to PMO requesting Modi to spare some time in the varsity and inspect its research. “We haven’t received any response yet. His schedule is reportedly packed,” said Khanna.
‘BJP workers won’t be allowed to enter’
Modi is expected to land in an Army chopper at Halwara Air Force Station from where another chopper will ferry him to PAU grounds.
Ravinder Arora, district president BJP said that party workers will not be allowed entry in PAU. “Except some 100 persons from the party including state leadership, none will be allowed inside not even BJP workers. It is a ministry event,” said Arora.