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NRI gifts college to Punjab village

Millionaire farmer L R Munger gifts a technical college to Punjab university.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2006 12:38 IST

A former constable of the Punjab Police, who went on to become a millionaire in the US, has gifted a technical college, complete with building and full infrastructure, to Punjab University.

Lajpat Rai Munger, 89, who hails from Bajwara village in Hoshiarpur district, gave away the Rs.200 million ($4.5 million) campus spread over 11 acres to the university Wednesday.

The college, at which the university will offer several engineering courses, was built about five years ago as a goodwill gesture towards Munger's home state.

The millionaire farmer from California - whose family owns one of California's largest blueberry and pistachio farms - has a turnover of $30 million a year.

He migrated to the US in 1966 after serving as a constable in Punjab Police.

For five years, Munger struggled with the bureaucracy in Punjab for running the college. He alleged that officials of the technical education department had demanded bribes to sanction the engineering courses.

Pleas that he was opening the college for the benefit of Punjabi youth fell on deaf years.

Finally, Munger approached university vice chancellor K.N. Pathak and decided last month to gift the college - Swami Sarvanand Giri Institute of Engineering And Technology - to Punjab University, under whose academic jurisdiction the area falls.

The new engineering courses, including computer sciences, will start from the next academic session in July, university officials said.

Munger had tied up with the California State University to co-affiliate the engineering courses he proposed for his college.

He had decided to gift the college to the university on the day when the central government was celebrating Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the Indian Diaspora day, in Hyderabad last month, to laud the success of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and to ask them to invest and give back to their country of origin.

The octogenarian Munger is well known in villages near Hoshiarpur town for his social work.

Many years ago, he set up a dispensary at Mal Majara village where people are treated for a nominal charge of only one rupee.

Though he spends most of his time in his village, his sons and other family members from the US keep visiting him.

First Published: Feb 03, 2006 12:38 IST