A complaint from the local unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) alleging financial irregularities in the hostel funds of the Panjab University (PU), one of the top varsities of the country, has resulted in the institute’s central grants getting frozen because of which its financial position is in tatters.
The ABVP on April 11 had alleged to the Union minister of human resource development Smriti Irani that the hostel fees was not being shown in PU’s budget and the money collected as the fees was being misused by university’s authorities.
They had submitted a memorandum demanding formation of a special investigation team to probe into their charges. A fact finding committee was formed after this and PU authorities have had to appear three times before it so far.
The university has not received a rupee from the Centre since the allegations were levelled against it, leaving the varsity with no money to pay its staff.
In May, the university diverted around Rs 25 crore from its research grants to pay salaries.
PU vice-chancellor prof Arun Grover said “The facts are being presented. They (Centre) will not release our grants till the matter pertaining to the corruption charges gets over.”
STATUS DIFFERENT UNDER UPA
In 2008, the then Manmohan Singh-led central government had agreed to meet PU’s fund deficit.
“During the last government’s tenure, a team evaluated our needs and it was agreed that the deficit would be met after taking into account our income and contribution from the Punjab state,” said Grover.
Special arrangements were made and PU’s deficit was being met with University Grants Commission’s (UGC) grants of over Rs 150 crore. However, after a few years, PU’s funding was shifted to non-plan budget in order to cater to expenditure in the form of salaries paid.
UNCLEARED DEFICIT FROM LAST YEAR
PU’s financial condition is worsened by the fact that the centre is yet to clear a deficit of Rs 18 crore from the last financial year.
For the year 2014-15, PU’s unspent balance was around Rs 45 crore. The deficit projected at that time was around Rs 176 crore.
“So, only Rs 131 crore was released as our grant as Rs 45 crore was added into it. But at the end of the financial year, the deficit was Rs 194 crore. So, there was a gap of Rs 18 crore, which is yet to be met by the central government,” said Grover.
Although PU had got a special status during UPA’s regime, Grover said they did not hold any animosity towards the present government.
“At that time, we were dealing with different bureaucrats. Now, with the change of government, we are dealing with new ones, we have no hard feelings,”he said.
In 2014, grants for PU were released on July 22. “For June’s salaries, we had to again divert money from research grants. In July too, we will generate our funds from fees,”the V-C said.
‘FORCED TO SHIFT BURDEN ON STUDENTS’
“I am being told that hostels have to be self-sustaining. Right now, we are using hostel fees and grants from the government to run them. Now, if the government doesn’t give money, we would increase fee and the burden will be shifted on students,” he said.
Panjab University is an interstate university, with Punjab being the only other state now involved.
Earlier, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana also had a stake in it.
In 1976, the Indian government approved 60:40 as the formula for maintenance deficit sharing between the Centre and the state (Punjab), respectively.
Initially, Punjab restricted its share of maintenance grant to Rs 16 crore, but revised it to Rs 20 crore subsequently, irrespective of its actual share on the basis of the agreed ratio.
Commenting on Punjab government not assisting the university, Grover said, “You cannot force Punjab government to help us. This is a public institution so either the alumni or central government should come forward. The society in the neighbourhood of Chandigarh has to think what has to be done.”
For 2015-16, the varsity has a deficit of around Rs 313 crore.