Even as the University of Mumbai plans to purchase an aircraft for its new aviation course and develop a virtual education network (VSAT) that will use a satellite to broadcast lectures, projects worth crores of rupees are lying unused at its campuses.
The new facilities include a virtual classrooms, a data centre for digitising university records, a mobile library equipped with an LED screen, computers, an organic waste composter, Internet kiosks, a two-storey student centre and three buildings. The university doesn’t seem to have any plan on how to use these expensive facilities. Most of these facilities were built during the tenure of vice-chancellor Rajan Welukar. The buildings housing the Cultural Centre, Green Technology Centre and Linguistic Centre are vacant three years after construction, as the buildings have not received an occupancy certificate from the municipal corporation.
Sanjay Vairal, a former MU senate member who has raised the issue of university infrastructure that is lying unused, said, “People who are nominated as the vice-chancellors at the university have political backing of the government of the day, but it appears that they are not able to use their influence in government offices to get the necessary clearances. Even the concerned departments are not ready to cooperate with the authorities to resolve the matter.”
Projects like virtual classroom and the mobile van were launched amid much fanfare, ostensibly to provide educational facilities in remote areas under the university’s jurisdiction.
Another major facility lying underutilised is a data centre under University Computerisation Centre. The purpose of the centre, inaugurated last year during Digital India Week, was to digitise all the records and transactions at MU. While the centre does some work related to admissions, it is yet to take up the exam-related work. According to a senior professor, many of these facilities were vanity projects for the administration. “Every time during budget allocations, someone would come up with a novel idea with a catchy name. They don’t have any plans or policy for its use” he said.
Leeladhar Bansod, the university’s deputy registrar (public relations), said that the virtual classroom are now used for lectures and seminars. “We have tied up with eight colleges in rural areas, and will soon be broadcasting lectures there”. While the expensive facilities remain vacant, the teaching and non-teaching staff are complaining about the lack of residential facilities for them inside the campuses. “Around 50-60 professors are waiting,” said a professor.