After being “forced” to give away 175 acres of its research centre land in Bathinda for setting up the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Punjab Agricultural University’s (PAU) is now set to lose two acres of its prime research land in Ludhiana.
The state government is all set to construct a permanent helipad on experimental fields that belongs to the PAU’s agronomy department.
Currently, all helicopters, including those of VVIPs such as the chief minister, governor and others, land on varsity grounds where a temporary helipad has been created.
PAU vice-chancellor Baldev Singh Dhillon confirmed the development. “Two acres have been earmarked for setting up a permanent helipad and a parking lot. With its construction, all VVIP landings will be away from the main campus buildings and the sports ground. Also, the move will help solve the parking woes on the campus,” Dhillon added.
Experts question logic
The move, however, has not gone down well with experts, who feel it will hit badly hit research. Agricultural experts said such decisions clearly prove that the state government is least interested in agriculture research.
Noted agriculture economist and former PAU vice-chancellor SS Johal questioned the logic behind setting up a permanent helipad in a research zone.
“It’s a clear sign that the state government is least bothered about agricultural research. Destroying an experimental field means disturbing research. There is no need for a permanent helipad,” opines Johal.
Another PAU former vice-chancellor MS Kang said, “It (helipad) will spell doom for research. Already, the decision to set up AIIMS on PAU land has draw flak. It takes many years to set up an experimental area. The government should reconsider its decision.”
Dhillon, however, said the agronomy department will have to do away with just one acre. “We have already offered the department an alternative site to set up research fields. Nothing will get disturbed,” he claimed.
Dhillon added that Gagandeep Singh Brar, director civil Aviation, Punjab, was consulted for the project. A civil aviation team visited us and approved the new site, he added.
Agronomy department head Thakur Singh said the “so-called deal” (to set up a helipad) was signed before he took over the reins of the department.
PAU feels the pinch
A PAU faculty member, pleading anonymity, said almost 30% of PAU’s land went to Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) which was established in 2007-08. “Since then, the varsity has been feeling the pinch with paucity of experimental land. The current move will surely harm the PAU in the longer run,” he said.