The Punjab government has notified the recent amendments to the Punjab Technical University Act, finally. With it, the university’s autonomy has decreased and all key powers now have been vested in babus.
The amended Act as notified on May 15 has the provision of chief secretary as chairman of the most crucial decision-making body of the university — the board of governors (BoGs) — with the principal secretary for technical education as its vice-chairman. The powers that the original Act gave to the vice-chancellor have been taken away virtually, and the V-C’s position is reduced to number three on the board, as the vice-chairman (a new post created) will be an IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer.
The V-C, who earlier led the proceedings at the meeting in the presence of the board president, now will be an ordinary member among all 15, including seven ex-officio members and six nominated ones. Four IAS officers will be on the board as opposed to two (finance secretary and technical education director) in the original Act. The chief secretary and the principal secretary have been brought on.
Powers to bureaucrats has decreased the authority of technocrats and industrialists, who in the original Act were crucial partner in advising the board about the latest demands of the industry from technical education. As opposed to two Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) directors earlier, now only one would be on the board.
Already, the post of vice-chancellor is vested in technical education secretary Rakesh Verma. Since the board was being reconstituted, there has been no meeting since last September.
Technocrats across the state have criticised the amendments as “attempts to decrease the PTU’s autonomy”. “In the rest of the country, technical universities are being made autonomous, but in Punjab, the government is trying to grab its functions to stem its growth. The strong lobby running the private colleges affiliated to the university will have a free run now,” said a retired PTU professor.
Sources said the state government had made the amendments to shift a big part of the Rs 1,100-crore PTU corpus to the newly built Maharaja Ranjit Singh State Technical University in Bathinda. In another alleged attack on the PTU’s autonomy, the amended law gives the state government power to make a reference to the university with regard to any matter of policy. Earlier, only the board of governors had this power.