Three Maharashtra government departments owe engineering, management and pharmacy colleges across the state Rs2013 crore as arrears of student freeships over the past three years.
Data recently compiled by the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE) show the departments of higher and technical education, social justice and special assistance, and tribal development, have not paid grants to more than 1,000 colleges in the state. The delay in getting funds, colleges say, is affecting their own budget.
The social justice and special assistance department, which reimburses colleges for freeships given to scheduled caste (SC) students, owes the bulk of the pending funds.
The tribal development department that provides funds for scheduled tribe (ST), nomadic tribe (NT) and Vimukta Jati (VJ) students, and the department of higher and technical education, which subsidises fees for economically backward class (EBC) students and pays salaries for aided institutes, are yet to release funds to the colleges.
DTE compiled the data on unpaid dues after it asked colleges to giver it information about the money that was owed to them by the government. The final data, compiled in January 2016, shows 500 colleges in the Pune region, which includes Pune, Satara, Sangli, Solapur and Kolhapur districts, are expecting more than Rs1000 cr in grants from the government. The pending amount for 80 colleges in the Mumbai region — this extends to Navi Mumbai and the suburbs —exceeds Rs66 crore. Hundreds of other colleges in Nagpur, Amravati and Nashik have not received arrears from the government.
Medical colleges do not figure in this list as they are governed by the Directorate of Medical Education and Research.
“Colleges that have some built-in strength manage to survive . But those without any alternate source of income, especially in mofussil areas, have to suffer,” said Zaheer Kazi, president, Anjuman-i-Islam, which manages four engineering and polytechnic colleges in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.
DTE director SK Mahajan couldn’t be reached on his phone despite repeated attempts by HT.
“Sometimes, there is a delay in the release of funds by the finance department. It’s possible the colleges may have inflated the figures,” said an official from department of Social Justice and Special Assistance.
But Sanjay Chahande, principal secretary, higher and technical education, said the department had paid off most of its dues. “We don’t owe anything other than Rs30 crore in scholarships for the EBC students,” he said.
Colleges, however, maintain that they are struggling to pay salaries of their faculty on time and are unable to add the necessary infrastructure. “We are forced to spend the capital investment reserved for infrastructure development on salaries,” said Kazi. While most colleges have managed to pay salaries, data shows around 10 colleges in the city have not paid teachers for as long as eight months.
Education activists, though, targeted colleges for asking for money without fulfilling requisite norms. “Colleges don’t have enough teachers and faculty, and still they ask for additional funds from the government, which is facing a deficit. An earlier report by the government had pointed out crores of rupees given to colleges in the past years have gone to waste,” said Vaibhav Narawade, secretary, Citizen Forum for Sanctity in Education.Narawde said colleges can manage to pay salaries without government aid, alleging many impose an illegal donation fee while admitting students.
Recent investigations by DTE has indicated more than 90% engineering colleges in the state, including 60 under the University of Mumbai, have violated infrastructure and faculty related norms.