Citing non-allocation of funds, the University Grants Commission (UGC) refused to approve the proposed building projects of the University of Delhi (DU). On January 30, the university’s Executive Council (EC) had sanctioned 17 projects at a cost of Rs. 305.76 crores.
The UGC has asked the university to reexamine the abstract cost of the projects. In a letter written by the UGC to the DU Registrar, it said, “For new building projects, (Rs 216.07 crore) proposal is not agreed, as there is no allocation of funds. However, it may be considered next financial year, subject to availability of funds from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). For building projects, proposals above Rs. 75 lakh need to be placed before the UGC standing committee.”
DU will also have to make cost adjustments for the ongoing building projects under the 12th plan. “For the ongoing building projects under the 12th plan, the amount required by DU is Rs. 103.60 crore — of which UGC allocated Rs. 36.88 crore in 2017-18. The University is in need of additional Rs. 68 crore, which is not allocated. Hence, the proposal of only Rs. 36.88 crore may be agreed,” the UGC argued.
The University has also been denied permission to re-appropriate the funds of either the OBC expansion grant or the Excellence Grant for the building projects. Probably, something that can be attributed to administrative inefficiency, Rs. 150 crores remains unspent out of the grant DU received under the 12th plan. The UGC allowed the university to spend that amount till 2018.
DU EC member AK Bhagi, said, “We had submitted plans for the new projects but the UGC insisted on spending the money that is there with the university. The UGC also said that the rest of the fund amount will be considered next year as money is allocated on a yearly basis now. Thereafter, the finance committee considered it and prioritized the project and sent it for approval to the EC and the EC approved it.”
Simultaneously, the UGC has asked the university to restructure its financing under the new policy of loans from the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA). This was placed in front of the EC. AK Bhagi added, “The EC decided that since no decision has been taken on that, so it should be placed for debate and discussion. We have not yet debated it but we don’t want to start any new project by taking loans”.
On being questioned why money was not spent for the last five years, the officials said that initially no plans were made. The University wanted to initiate some projects at its South Campus but the National Green Tribunal didn’t approve the same as the area falls under the Aravalli forest range. Now the plans will be reformulated.
But there are others who are concerned about the UGC asking the University to go to HEFA. Rajesh Jha, another EC member, said, “This happened because the money that had come to DU could not be utilized due to administrative inefficiency. Now, we have to depend on loans from HEFA for infrastructure development. The larger implications of this will be increasing the students’ fees.”
While the blame game continues and the rules are being thrown back and forth, the fact remains that the University’s projects are stuck for the time being. If the university finally has to go for HEFA, it would be the students who would be paying the price.
Reporting by Kumar Dhananjay Editorial Consultant, Delhi