The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Vigilance eye on varsity

Santiniketan, Oct. 2: After the Central Bureau of Investigation, it is now the turn of the Central Vigilance Commission to carry out investigations at Visva-Bharati.

Earlier this year, a former chief justice of Sikkim High Court, Moloy Sengupta, had held former varsity vice-chancellor Dilip Sinha and several officials responsible for giving affiliation to nearly 40 institutes mostly of dubious reputation ' some of which did not even exist ' between 1998 and 2001.

The Union human resource development ministry has asked the vigilance commission to probe the affiliations and unearth details of kickbacks received by staff. 'We had handed over the report to the human resource development ministry,' Visva-Bharati vice-chancellor Sujit Basu told The Telegraph today.

Earlier, the vice-chancellor had submitted the Sengupta commission report to the CBI, which is probing the Tagore heist, to find out if there are any links between the scam and the theft of Rabindranath Tagore's Nobel medal and other memorabilia in March.

However, with pressure mounting from all quarters, especially a section of varsity officials, the vice-chancellor decided to send the report to the ministry, which indicated a few days ago that central vigilance sleuths would investigate the scam.

Officials said the formalities are yet to be completed and added that the vigilance panel might also check the names of several candidates empanelled by Sinha at Visva-Bharati during his tenure.

The investigations into the affiliations got underway after President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam asked the university authorities to initiate an inquiry into the scam.

The probe revealed that only four of the 40 institutes were registered under the Societies Registration Act. The institutes did not follow decorum while applying for affiliation. There is also evidence that Sinha did not take the academic and executive councils into confidence before granting the affiliations.

Varsity authorities today also took the first step in following Kalam's advice of raising Visva-Bharati to international standards. The authorities have decided to turn the university into a completely-residential varsity and construct a 100-room hostel on newly-acquired land to facilitate the process. The work has been assigned to the Sriniketan-Santiniketan Development Authority, officials said.

At present, less than 40 per cent of students stay on campus.

'We believe this hampers the way we groom children in hostels because we get two sections of students exposed to different ways of life. We are, however, wary that the move might backfire as the hostel fees are minimal,' said a senior varsity official. University officials indicated that there is a move to raise the fees.

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