It is common practice for the ruling CPM in West Bengal to blame the central government for curtailing funds and hampering the progress of higher education.
Work culture at state-aided Calcutta University (CU), which also has to depend on financial assistance from Delhi, however, paints a different picture.
The university has failed to utilise Rs 90 lakh that the University Grants Commission (UGC), a funding agency under the Union human resources development ministry, had released this year. A substantial chunk of the fund is lying unused, though the UGC deadline set to the university ends on November 30.
The UGC recently wrote to the university, asking it to send the utilisation certificates of the fund by November 30. CU has also been asked to return the unutilised funds after expiry of the deadline.
Sources in the university said the UGC fund had been distributed to various departments, specially in the science and technology faculties. It was earmarked mainly for research, purchase of equipment and computers and upgrading laboratories.
A senior official in CU’s finance department alleged that with the deadline drawing to its end and the UGC threat to take back the unused funds, the university is scurrying to spend the money as quickly as possible. “The easiest and earliest way to use up the funds is to buy computers and that is exactly what the university has asked its departments to do. We are taken aback by the way the funds are being misused,” said a teacher.
Another teacher said most of the departments had submitted their proposals to the authorities for utilising the funds well within the targeted time. He attributed the delay in using up the funds to the long-drawn process followed by the university for distributing the money.
By the system, all aid from the government and other funding agencies are deposited centrally in CU’s main fund. The departments submit individual requisitions to get the funds from the finance department. This leads to a delay in disbursement, the teacher pointed out. “The funds could have been spent well within target if the departments were allowed to get their share directly from the funding agencies,” the teachers felt.
Suranjan Das, pro vice-chancellor (academic), however, said major chunks of the fund had been given to the departments and spent. He said the university will appeal to the UGC for an extension of the last date for sending the utilisation certificates.