With the row over the Punjab government’s decision to shift the upcoming All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) from Doaba to Bathinda already refusing to die down, yet another move of the Shiromani Akali Dal-led government in the state asking Punjab Technical University (PTU), Kapurthala, to transfer Rs 75 crore from its corpus fund to the newly set up Maharaja Ranjit Singh Technical University in Bathinda has become a fresh bone of contention.
The PTU Mulazam Front on Friday held a pen-down strike in which about 500 employees participated, resulting in hassle to hundreds of students who visited the campus for obtaining migration and other certificates to get admission.
The front leaders contended that since various types of fees the Bathinda technical university will be getting from colleges affiliated to it is Rs 35 crore, there was no point PTU should be giving it money from its corpus.
Since PTU has a corpus of Rs 1,000 crore, the state government in the absence of funds in its exchequer intends to utilise part of it to build infrastructure at the Bathinda technical university.
The second technical university has come up this year by upgrading Giani Zail Singh College, Bathinda, and would monitor technical education institutions in the Malwa region.
The orders to transfer the fund by director technical education have evoked strong reaction from the PTU employees who are alleging conspiracy by the Badals of shifting the corpus to the Bathinda varsity that already has 300 acre campus and a full-fledged building of Giani Zail Singh College.
“PTU has already transferred more than Rs 150 crore for establishing academic infrastructure at the Punjab Institutes of Technology (PITs) in the Malwa region. More than Rs 55 crore was spent by PTU on PITs in Mansa, Nandgarh and Sikhwala in the past two years.
It also includes the salaries and other expenses for Giani Zial Singh College,” said Kamlesh Kumar, Mulazam Front president.
“More than `50 crore are pending with the colleges which are already being transferred to the technical university in Bathinda. Why did the government set up second university when it did not have money?” said an employee leader.
“IKG-PTU has invested more than Rs 100 crore to bail the campus out of financial crisis in the past four years. The university has funded construction of hostels and other renovation works also. What else can we do now?” questioned a senior functionary at PTU.
Yadvinder Singh, vice-president of the Front, alleged that the Parkash Singh Badal-led government is working against PTU for about five years.
“The Badals are planning to strengthen the academic education in Malwa region with PTU’s corpus funds,” he claimed.
PTU officials said more than Rs 400 crore is being spent from the corpus on constructing a large academic building and a central library on the campus.
“Moreover, setting up of a new university is also going to reduce our resources with several major colleges coming under its jurisdiction,” an official said.
“Shifting funds to the Bathinda university is an unjustifiable move,” he further said.
The strike will continue till the state government rolls back its decision, another front member said.