Panjab University fund crunch: Second meet of Punjab, Haryana CMs inconclusive

Jun 05, 2023 03:57 PM IST

Punjab governor urges both sides to find middle path on Panjab University affiliation, convenes next meeting on July 3

The second meeting called by UT administrator Banwarilal Purohit to discuss Haryana’s proposal for affiliation to its colleges in three districts bordering Punjab with Panjab University and helping the varsity tide over its financial crisis remained inconclusive on Monday.

(From left) Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Punjab governor and Chandigarh administrator Banwarilal Purohit and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann at a meeting on the Panjab University financial crisis. (HT file photo)
(From left) Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Punjab governor and Chandigarh administrator Banwarilal Purohit and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann at a meeting on the Panjab University financial crisis. (HT file photo)

Chief minister Bhagwant Mann rejected his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar’s proposal of affiliation of Haryana colleges in Panchkula, Ambala and Yamunanagar districts with PU, saying the Chandigarh-based university has always been connected with Punjab’s legacy and heritage.

Officials privy to the matter said that Purohit advised a middle path after Khattar offered to contribute up to 40% of the total annual expenses needed to run the university and suggested it give affiliation to the colleges of the three districts of Haryana bordering Punjab.

Also read: HT explainer: What’s behind Panjab University’s financial crisis

Mann told reporters later, “I categorically conveyed in the meeting that there is no scope for inclusion of Haryana in running of the Panjab University, as Punjab is self-sufficient to run the university, a symbol of Punjab’s culture, ethos, traditions and literature.”

On June 1, Purohit had presided over the first meeting between the two CMs but it was inconclusive. The governor intervened after Union home minister Amit Shah’s suggestion in the northern zonal council meeting that such issues should be resolved locally.

Purohit said the next meeting in this regard will be held on July 3.

University’s growing financial crisis

The university’s financial crisis is growing by the year. For instance, for the 2023-24 academic session, as per the budget, the University Grants Commission (UGC) will pay a grant of 294 crore and Punjab will pay 38 crore. Yet there will be a deficit of 118 crore in this year’s budget. Arrears worth 200 crore are also pending.

In March, the UGC had said that there is no possibility of any further increase in salary grant of PU at this stage.

In 1976, a consultative committee of the central government fixed the funding ratio between the Centre and Punjab government at 60:40. But in 2011, Punjab fixed its grant at 20 crore. Since then, it is being increased marginally.

In the June 1 meeting, Khattar had said that under the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, the share of Haryana was given to Panjab University and the colleges and regional centres of Haryana were affiliated to PU. However, it was abolished by issuing a notification in 1973. Last year, the Haryana assembly had unanimously passed a resolution recommending the government seek restoration of the state’s share in Panjab University.

Khattar said that in the interest of the students, the colleges of the state should be given the option of affiliation with Panjab University. “Delhi University is building its campus in Haryana. Apart from this, the campus of IIT, Delhi is also coming up in the state. Expanding education and affiliation of the colleges will provide new opportunities to students of Haryana,” he said.

Punjab vs Haryana argument

The Haryana government spokesman said that the state has 60% share in the university and Punjab has 40% share. In 10 years, the university has received an average of 200- 300 crore per year from the Centre. But in the last decade, only 20- 21 crore have been received from Punjab on an average per year. In 2020-21, 39 crore was released by Punjab. Overall, the university gets only 7 to 14% of the budget as against Punjab’s share of 40%, the spokesman added.

On the other hand, Mann, said, in 1970 the Haryana government voluntarily surrendered its claim over the university. “The Punjab Vidhan Sabha also passed a resolution on June 30, 2022, for not making a change in the decision-making body of the University and it will not be made a central university,” the CM said.

Facing opposition in Punjab

With political parties in Punjab criticising his handling of Haryana’s proposal of affiliation of its colleges with PU, Mann on Monday made public a letter written in 2008 by then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, offering a no-objection certificate for converting PU into a central university. The political parties in Punjab had criticised Mann for even allowing the presence of the Haryana CM in the meeting on June 1.

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