Fake degree scam rocks House
Fake degree scam involving the alleged sale of more than five lakh degrees by two private universities of Himachal rocked the state assembly on the third day of the budget session.
Leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri raised the issue ahead of question hour as soon as the House assembled for day’s proceedings.
Agnihotri said that the University Grants Commission (UGC) had written to the government about the alleged sale of fake degrees by two private universities.
Even as speaker Vipin Parmar asked Agnihotri that under which rule he raised the issue, the leader of opposition said that the alleged scam not only brought a bad name to the state but has also put the future of youth studying in these universities at stake.
“Since the education minister did not issue a suo moto statement, I had to raise the matter in the House,” he said.
In his reply, education minister Suresh Bhardwaj accused the leader of opposition of sensationalising the matter by raising the issue without giving notice.
Maintaining that the matter was different from what was being alleged, Bhardwaj said UGC had received an anonymous complaint about the universities selling fake degrees.
“A total of 18 universities were named in the complaint, of which, two universities—APG University and Manav Bharti University— are in Himachal,” said Bhardwaj.
The education minister said that based on the complaint, UGC sent a communication to the state government which has been forwarded to the Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission for necessary action.
Action can’t be taken on an anonymous complaint but the principal secretary (education) still has already forwarded the matter to the regulatory commission, he said.
Bhardwaj said that the commission has sought some records from the universities and a complaint has also been sent to the director general of police.
“The probe is on and if the universities are found involved in illegal practice, strict action will be taken,” said the education minister.
UPROAR OVER EXTERNALLY-FUNDED PROJECTS
Meanwhile during the debate on governor’s address, acrimonious scenes were witnessed in the House as treasury and opposition benches sparred over grant for externally-funded projects.
Agnihotri, who tried to corner the government on these issues, also had a heated exchange with irrigation & public health and horticulture minister Mahender Singh Thakur and industry minister Bikram Singh. Agnihotri went on to say that if the allegations were found to be wrong, the government may bring privilege motion against him.
Leader of opposition sought to know that how much grant was received for externally-funded projects. Referring to a letter by Asian Development Bank (ADB), Agnihotri said that the ADB did not want to sponsor projects in Himachal.
Citing the example of another project, he said that the government floated tenders worth ₹2500 crore but the Centre only provided ₹150 crore for it.
Minister Mahender Singh Thakur refuted the charges and sought Agnihotri to table the documents favouring his claims.
Agnihotri also said that there were no progress made in the national highway projects and international airport proposed in Mandi.