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CUJ campus hits document deadlock

CBI yet to hand over papers seized during probe into financial anomalies at varsity

Ranchi: The efforts of Central University of Jharkhand (CUJ) to resume work on its permanent campus at Kanke block along Ranchi Ring Road have hit a roadblock with the CBI failing to hand over the documents pertaining to pending contractor dues that the agency had seized during its 2014 probe into the varsity's alleged financial irregularities.

After much persuasion of the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Union HRD ministry by the CUJ authorities, the CBI had in December last year lifted the freeze on the varsity's accounts, enabling it to go ahead with the construction of the permanent campus.

Aiming to start work across 319.28 acres at Cheri-Manatu from March 2018, the CUJ had in the middle of December floated fresh tenders for architects for its master plan and other civil work. But nothing has materialised till now.

"Last year, the CBI removed the names of four contractors and our project consultant EPIL from its chargesheet. The case is still on against eight other contractors and four officials. We were planning to clear the dues of four contractors and ask them to resume work on the permanent campus. However, the CBI has not returned the documents seized by it. The agency had initially told us that they would give back the documents after we submit an application, which we did. Later it said we should apply to the CBI court. We have recently filed a petition. Let's see how long will that take," CUJ's vice chancellor Nand Kumar Yadav 'Indu' told The Telegraph.

Nand Kumar couldn't specify the outstanding dues of the four contractors, but said around Rs 56 crore for civil and other works was estimated to be pending. Around Rs 626 crore was allocated for the permanent campus from 2016-17 to 2020-21.

"UGC has released some funds but we can't make payment unless we access the seized documents," he said.

He said even the project site, which has been abandoned since 2014, remained out of bounds for them because the buildings weren't handed over to CUJ by the contractors.

"We have asked the CBI to give us a no-objection certificate so that we can make further plans," he added.

On the status of the tenders floated in December for architects to prepare the master plan and architectural and structural designs, Nand Kumar said it still needed to be finalised.

"We had zeroed in on a firm, but we received a few petitions that questioned the integrity of the process and the companies that took part in it. We are trying to evaluate all aspects before taking a decision," he said.

The CUJ had debuted in Jharkhand in 2009 and has since been functioning from a rented accommodation from Brambe. Currently, it has 24 departments and 2,000 students.

The VC said the lack of a permanent campus was a big deterrent to expansion.

"The government is asking us to introduce a slew of new courses and departments, but we don't have the space to do so. In the existing campus, the departments and hostels are mostly prefabricated structures, most of which are crying for repair. We also had closed down a slew of five-year integrated courses over a period of time. A few existing PG departments such as tribal studies and human rights aren't getting any students. We are currently evaluating courses that have become redundant. If we had our own permanent campus, we would have put the expansion work on fast track."

Nand Kumar was not at CUJ when the alleged financial irregularities hit the central varsity, prompting the government to rope in the CBI.

The CBI formally began investigations into the financial anomalies in July 2014. The agency questioned founding VC D.T. Khating and other officials, besides a host of contractors engaged in work on the permanent campus. Subsequently, the project was put on hold and the CUJ's accounts were freezed.

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