MHRD puts rider on releasing grants for first time, says PU V-C

  • Bhartesh Singh Thakur, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Feb 17, 2016 14:35 IST
Panjab University vice-chancellor Arun Kumar Grover. (HT File Photo)

The Ministry of human resource and development (MHRD) has put a rider for the first time on releasing grants to Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh, said vice-chancellor Arun Kumar Grover.

“They will evaluate the budget allotted to them, before deciding to meet our (PU) deficit. While releasing money, they will also see our utilisation certificates. It is a part of file notings. It has happened for the first time,” said vice-chancellor, professor Grover.

“But we have not received any negative word from them. They have just been cautioning us. They have a commitment to meet our deficit,” he said.

He further informed that PU had requested for Rs 99 crore in second instalment for 2015-16 to meet their deficit. In the first instalment, around Rs 150 crore was released.

The Board of Finance meeting to approve Rs 306 crore deficit budget for 2016-17 was held on Monday, where for the first time an MHRD representative - deputy secretary at the department of higher education - V K Siljo was present.

Mounting deficit

Punjab government was supposed to contribute to 40% of deficit of PU but they fixed their support at Rs 20 crore. In the backdrop of static funding by Punjab, the implications of the 6th pay commission report, inflationary impact and persistent requirements for maintenance and improvement of academic infrastructure, a task force constituted by MHRD had on May 26, 2010, recommended that central government may fund the university through UGC.

From the financial year 201011 to 2012-13, the UGC released grants to university out of its plan fund as an interim measure.

In the financial year 2013-14, a special meeting was convened on October 15, 2013 by MHRD to make an assessment of university budget, where a representative of UGC was also present. It recommended for releasing Rs 163 crore under the non-plan budget of the UGC with stipulation that a uniform increase of 8% shall be allowed in the budget for the subsequent year.

On the same rate, it fixed Rs 176 crore for 2014-15. But the area of concern was approximately 85% of non-plan expenditure of the varsity constitutes salary and other retirement benefits, which are bound to escalate on continuous basis on account of enhancement in dearness allowance (DA) by the government and annual increments as well as other promotional benefits under the service rules. In 2014-15, there is a deficit of Rs 16.26 crore which remained outstanding from the grants received. In Monday’s meeting MHRD official was informed about it.

In 2015-16, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), student wing of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), alleged financial irregularities on the part of PU authorities.

A fact-finding committee was formed which looked into accounts of PU since its inception. It delayed the release of grants and first installment of Rs 150 crore could be released only on January 11 this year.

For 2015-16, the deficit stands at Rs 255.72 crore. The actual grants received from centre till date are Rs 150 crore. The varsity is seeking Rs 99 crore more.

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