By OUR STAFF REPORTER
PANTNAGAR, 9 Aug: The teachers and staff of the renowned GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, are on strike. Due to this, the teaching, research and extension work in the University has come to a standstill. The new academic session of the University, due to begin on 16 August, may be affected because of the ongoing strike by the Pantnagar University Teachers Association (PUTA) representing teachers and the Workers’ Union representing the non-teaching staff of the University. Widely appreciated and recognised as a centre of excellence in agriculture education and research, Pantnagar University was recently ranked by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, as the number one among 73 State Agriculture Universities in India. Besides, the University also got the third rank among more than 100 agriculture institutions in the country. In Uttarakhand, it has been getting the Governor’s Best University Award for the last three years. Pantnagar University was also appreciated by Nobel Laureate Norman E Borlaug as the ‘harbinger of the green revolution’, which ensured food security for the nation. In spite of all these achievements, all is not well in the university and its teachers and staffs are agitated for various reasons. According to them, lack of concern and apathy on the part of the state government and ill-conceived policies and narrow mindset of the University administration had forced them to go on strike. The Pantnagar University Teachers Association (PUTA) has called several times for resolution of long pending demands such as non- implementation of 7th Pay Commission for all the faculty members, removing discrepancies in service conditions of teaching, research, and extension faculty, denial of pension to research faculty after having served for more than 30 years at the University. All other Universities in Uttarakhand have been given benefit of the 7th Pay Commission but the teachers of Pantnagar University are being denied this benefit. Only a few teachers of College of Agriculture have got this benefit from June 2019; and there is no talk of when arrears will be given. Salaries of teachers and staff are regularly delayed due to baseless objections of the finance comptroller and its staff. Researchers working at the University for decades are now being treated as ‘temporary’ and told that they will not get the pension despite University deducting GPF from their salaries for more than 30 years. Now they are being treated as ‘temporary staff’ in spite of the University’s statue recognising the integrated mandate of teaching, research, and extension. Consequently, the University is losing its image as an institution of excellence in agriculture education and research. PUTA and Workers Union representatives have also met Agriculture Minister of Uttarakhand but nothing concrete has been done to solve the long outstanding demands. Hence, the strike has become the only alternative to pressurise the University administration and state government for solution of their problems, they state.