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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Nothing will save 'accused' in PTU irregularities: Badal

Jasdeep Singh Malhotra   Khatkar Kalan, March 23, 2013
First Published: 20:34 IST(23/3/2013) | Last Updated: 14:19 IST(24/3/2013)

Breaking his silence on alleged financial irregularities being committed by the Punjab Technical University (PTU) authorities, state chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday categorically stated that the Vigilance Bureau (VB) inquiry report in this regard would be examined and those named would be dealt with strictly, irrespective of political affiliation. 

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Badal, who was here to preside over state level function to mark martyrdom of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, said that he would ask VB officials to present the record, pertaining to inquiry carried out with regard to embezzlement of PTU funds, before him.

On reportedly not giving “green signal” to the VB sleuths for proceeding against the officials concerned, Badal, who also holds the vigilance portfolio, denied the charge and said that the VB officials would be asked to proceed as per the law.

Badal, accompanied by the Punjab BJP chief Kamal Sharma, said: “Affiliations with the Akali Dal or the BJP cannot save any accused from facing legal action. Moreover, the BJP leadership has never approached me to save anyone.”

The CM said that he had received a written complaint regarding embezzlement charges against PTU officials and he had spoken to PTU board of governers chairman SK Munjal and had told him to take appropriate action.

“I called up Munjal and asked him to look into the complaint. Munjal also met me recently. The accused, if any, will not be spared,” Badal said.

PTU authorities had appointed several firms, reportedly owned by family members, relatives or friends of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) leaders, as consultants, coordinators and facilitators, on pick and choose basis and allegedly in violation of prescribed norms.

Vice-chancellor Rajneesh Arora was vice-president of the Punjab RSS unit before assuming the charge of the varsity.
 
These handpicked firms, a majority of them newly incorporated just before allotment of the PTU contract, were being paid lakhs of rupees per month in spite of little experience in running distance education courses.

A majority of these firms do not even own websites, a real need for running such courses. A number of these firms did not even have a Permanent Account Number (PAN) of the Income Tax department, thus, lending credence to the allegations that such firms were formed allegedly to usurp public money.

A Delhi based firm NetIIT owned by Praveen Kumar, a batch mate of the VC Arora, was appointed as consultant and was paid over Rs. 7 crore as “consultancy” to improve the distance education programmes, offered by the university.

This was done in spite of the fact that the then BoG chairman and chief secretary Rakesh Singh had tendered an unconditional apology in the high court for ratifying the appointment of consultants.

He had also ordered the VC to terminate NetIIT's contract immediately. However, the order is yet to be complied with till date, even as it has been seven months since the directive.

After Praveen's appointment, the distance education programme, however, witnessed a new low, as an FIR was registered against VC Arora and other PTU functionaries for offering courses under distance mode without approval of the Distance Education Council (DEC), a Delhi court stayed PTU from conducting exams of distance courses, the Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission sought clarifications on hiring a private firm for conducting exams.

The university has also failed to declare results of a large section of the students.

Agitated over failure of the PTU authorities to timely obtain mandatory DEC approval, the distance education students also held protest rally in Chandigarh recently. They accused the authorities of playing with their future. “The chief minister had asked the chief secretary to hold an inquiry on students' written complaint,” sources said.

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