Sambalpur: Demanding 100% reservation in recruitment to the post of Assistant Horticulture Officer (AHO), students of the College of Horticulture, Chiplima staged protest in front of the college here today. They have been opposing the decision of the Odisha Public Services Decision (OPSC) to allow students of the College of Agriculture to apply for the AHO post.

The agitating students along with their alumni demanded that candidates having B.Sc (Hort.) qualification should only be eligible for the post of AHO and the B.Sc (Ag.) qualification should be excluded from the eligibility criteria. They have also threatened that if their demands are not fulfilled within seven days and get assurance in written about the same, they will resort to indefinite hunger strike.

“We want reservation for Horticulture students for AHO post and so, the OPSC notification for 2019 recruitment should be withheld. A total of 63 AHO posts, for which the OPSC has issued a notification, must be filled by Horticulture students as they are specialized for the job,” said an agitating student.

While students from other streams including Agriculture, Veterinary and Fisheries have reserved government posts, the government has not ensured similar reservation for the Horticulture students, said another student adding that the OUAT and government must work in collaboration to provide jobs to B.Sc (Horticulture) graduates.

“The College of Horticulture was established in 2008 and till date only 15 students have got jobs; it itself exposes our pathetic condition,” said an alumni of the college. Till date, more than 300 students have graduated from College of Horticulture, Chiplima.

Earlier in a letter to the Principal Secretary of the Agriculture department, the students and alumni wrote, “In 2016, we were assured by OUAT and Secretariat with written notification that 50% of post will be reserved for B.Sc (Hort.) students. But nothing such was amended in present notification. So, the present notification of AHO posting should be withheld as we clearly cheated by Government of Odisha and our university.”

It is pertinent to mention that the OPSC in its recent job advertisement had stated that a candidate must hold BSc (Horticulture)/ B.Sc. (Agriculture) to be eligible for the 63 AHO posts.

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