A government meeting to discuss food parks – befittingly over a sumptuous lunch -- has left a local five-star hotel begging for payment of the bill to the tune of more than Rs 84,000.
The meeting, organised by the cash-strapped Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in July 2014, had Union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in attendance. Ministry officials and other members of the delegation also attended the meeting, which was to be followed by a “desi” lunch on the university campus itself.
But the VVIPs had a better idea: to take the 60-member delegation out for lunch at a five-star hotel on the Ferozepur road.
According to those who attended to the guests, at least 15 dishes were served during the lunch that was laid out in the hotel’s banquet hall. The delicacies included Indian vegetarian food, with some expensive ‘paneer’ dishes being ordered. Sukhbir specially opted for ‘raita’.
The bill ran up to Rs 84,850 and it was despatched to the university for payment. However, it remains unpaid as PAU is in a fix. The university has been facing an acute financial crunch for the past several years, with employees repeatedly complaining about delay in the release of salaries.
The meeting had taken place at the Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) on the university campus. The vice-chancellors of PAU and the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) were also present. Harsimrat had discussed the creation of mini food parks across across Punjab to give a fillip to processing of local produce.
When contacted, PAU vice-chancellor BS Dhillon said, “Being the V-C, I can’t remember all bill payments. However, I will ensure that the matter is resolved as soon as possible.” He stated that Sandeep Kapur, PAU’s financial controller, should be contacted to ascertain the status of this bill.
When contacted, Kapur confirmed that the lunch bill for Rs 84,850 was pending since July 5 last year. “We will try to make the payment within the next few days,” he added.