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regular-article-logo Friday, 19 April 2024

Finger at BJP for poll bias as Centre sanctions Rs 480 crore to Central University of Odisha

The special consideration by the ministry of education (MoE) headed Dharmendra Pradhan has drawn criticism from academics who felt the decision was aimed at reaping political benefits for the BJP in Odisha in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. Pradhan, who hails from Odisha, will contest the polls

Basant Kumar Mohanty New Delhi Published 04.03.24, 06:43 AM
Dharmendra Pradhan.

Dharmendra Pradhan. File picture

The Union government has sanctioned grants of Rs 480 crore to the Central University of Odisha for infrastructure development, at a time every other central university in the country has been asked to take loans to meet such requirements.

The special consideration by the ministry of education (MoE) headed Dharmendra Pradhan has drawn criticism from academics who felt the decision was aimed at reaping political benefits for the BJP in Odisha in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. Pradhan, who hails from Odisha, will contest the Lok Sabha elections this time after a gap of 15 years.

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The MoE had earlier provided Rs 130 crore in 2023 to the university towards campus development.

Two government officials said the varsity’s own campus had come up in tribal-dominated Koraput district. The funds of Rs 480 crore will be utilised for the construction of an administrative block, a library, labs, an international guest house, a sports stadium, a boarding school and an auditorium.

The MoE is continuously monitoring the progress in faculty recruitment at the university. Till last year, the university was running with about 15 faculty members. In the past year, the university has appointed 38 regular faculty members.

While other central universities are being asked to apply for loans from the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) for infrastructure development, the Odisha varsity has been provided grants. The MoE set up the HEFA to provide loans to institutions. Institutions are to pay 10 per cent of the principal amount and interest on this amount in 10 years from its own resources.

“The university would have collected the money from students (in the form of fees) if the funds were given from the HEFA. But there is no obligation in the case of the Odisha varsity,” said an official.

Two academics said the special favour shown to the Odisha university amounted to discrimination for political benefits.

“If the Central University of Odisha is provided grant-in-aid for development, all universities should be treated the same way. Otherwise, it is discrimination. It is wrong to ask other institutions to take loans from the HEFA for development activities,” said Arun Kumar, an academic and president of the All India Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation.

“The special favour seems to be intended at reaping political benefits for the BJP,” Kumar said.

An official of the university said it deserved the grants because it had returned Rs 600 crore in grants in 2017-18 as the money could not be spent that time.

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