Jadavpur University has been left in the lurch as it has not received the second instalment of the funds the Centre had promised under a scheme aimed at supporting research and upgrading infrastructure, officials of the university said.
The officials said the Centre’s pause on funds had prompted the university to spend Rs 4 crore from its coffers to pay suppliers and service providers, whose bills had remained unpaid for long.
A JU official said the Centre had been withholding funds for 19 months.
JU vice-chancellor Suranjan Das said: “We made expenditures following an assurance that the support (from the Centre) would go on. Despite several reminders to the education ministry, the money has not come and we are not able to make reimbursements.”
When this newspaper contacted the Union minister of state for education, Subhash Sarkar, who is an MP from Bengal, he said: “I will not comment on the matter until I know all the facts.”
In May 2018, JU and nine other universities from across the country were selected for a grant of Rs 100 crore each under Rashtriya Uchchatara Siksha Abhiyaan (RUSA) scheme.
While the Centre pays 60 per cent of the funds, the rest has to be borne by the respective state governments.
JU had received the first instalment of Rs 41.67 crore (Rs 25 crore from the Centre and Rs 16.67 crore from the state) in November 2018. Officials said the money had been spent by the end of March 2020.
“The pause on the second instalment of the Centre’s contribution (around Rs 35 crore) has landed us in trouble because we have made expenditures based on Delhi’s assurance of continued support,” said an official.
The scheme was to end on March 31, 2020, but the Centre extended it till March 31, 2021.
“The university has placed orders for high-end machinery for research and sanctioned projects for civil construction since the scheme was extended. Only since July 2020 has the ministry been hinting at the non-release of funds. It’s saying that no more than 30 per cent of the teaching posts can be vacant for a university to be eligible for the funds. But substantial expenditures have already been incurred,” the official said.
VC Das had written to Sunita Siwach, the national coordinator of RUSA, last September: “It was not stated that having 70 per cent of all teaching posts filled up was an essential precondition for receiving the grant.”