The Punjab government today gave in-principle nod for allotment of about 10 acre land at village Dhaulkalan in Amritsar district to set up the centrally-sponsored Post Graduate Institute of Excellence in Horticulture. This was disclosed by an official spokesperson after a meeting of the Horticulture Department chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, to identify and finalise the land for the proposed institute which had been announced by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The land that has been identified is located between Guru Nanak Dev University and Ram Tirath, the Horticulture Department informed the meeting. An official spokesperson said that another 100 acre had been identified at Attari in December 2015 for horticulture research. The additional land now identified for allotment would be used to develop the educational institute. To be established by the Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR) in collaboration with the Punjab government, the institute will help boost crop diversification -- a key agenda of Captain Amarinder -- who has been proactively promoting this as a means for bolstering farmer income and permanently resolving the state's agrarian crisis, he said. Captain Amarinder has directed Additional Chief Secretary (Horticulture) Himmat Singh to share details of the land with ICAR authorities and has also asked him to invite an ICAR team to inspect the site. He also instructed the Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, to get all other requisite formalities/permissions cleared for handing over immediate possession of the land to ICAR so that the project can be started at the earliest. With farmers caught in a vicious wheat-paddy cycle and trapped by mounting debts, the state government is pursuing crop diversification, including horticulture, as a means for creating a new agricultural ecosystem, he said.
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