Maharashtra govt ignored official red flag, cleared 13 new colleges

According to inspection reports of the higher and technical education department, they did not have the area required to run a new college or the permission to use agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. The report also stated that the three lacked drinking water and drainage facilities.

Written by Priyanka Sahoo , Sandeep A Ashar | Mumbai | Published:August 5, 2017 5:49 am
maharashtra government, maharashtra new colleges, maharashtra govt education, devendra fadnavis, Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde, indian express news 13 of these colleges, which had not been given permission for operations by the department, were approved by Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and Education Minister Tawde using discretionary powers (Source: File Photo)

Thirteen new colleges were approved last year by the Maharashtra government using discretionary powers despite them being found ineligible under norms and the state’s higher and technical education department rejecting their proposals, according to records obtained by The Indian Express under the RTI Act.

Three of these 13 colleges belong to a trust run by the wife of former Union Minister Raosaheb Danve, now the BJP state president. One belongs to an education society, of which BJP Rajya Sabha member Prabhakar Kore is chairperson. A law college in Borivali, which was approved after the deadline, belongs to Ramesh Singh Thakur, a former Congress legislator who switched to the BJP last year.

The three colleges run by the trust linked to Danve’s wife are at Bhokardan in Jalna district in the Marathwada region — a residential and two degree colleges. According to inspection reports of the higher and technical education department, they did not have the area required to run a new college or the permission to use agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. The report also stated that the three lacked drinking water and drainage facilities.

Education Minister Vinod Tawde, however, granted approval to the colleges, stating that Marathwada was a backward region and did not have enough educational institutions, records show. The education department checks each application against the norms set up by the government in 2013.

According to these norms, a college must own the specified area of non-agricultural land and hold a fixed deposit of at least Rs 5 lakh. Besides, its building must have all structural permits and infrastructural requirements such as laboratories, toilets, record rooms, library and staff room. Drinking water facilities, drainage systems, electricity facilities should also be in place for both owned and rented spaces, the rules state. Records show that the higher and technical education department received around 300 applications to start new colleges for the year 2016-17.

When contacted, a senior government official told the Indian Express that only three colleges were approved in the five years until 2014 using discretionary powers and that 49 new colleges were approved last year. The decision came after two rounds of inspections by the higher and technical education department. The deadline for approval was extended from June 25 to July 31 and finally to August 5.

Documents accessed by The Indian Express show that 13 of these colleges, which had not been given permission for operations by the department, were approved by Tawde and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis using discretionary powers vested in the government under section 82(5) of the Maharashtra Public Universities Act 1994.

The clause states: “Out of the applications recommended by the university, the State Government may grant permission to such institutions as it may consider right and proper in its absolute discretion, taking into account the State Government’s budgetary resources, the suitability of the managements seeking permission to open new institutions and the State level priorities with regard to location of institutions of higher learning”.

When contacted, Fadnavis declined to comment on the RTI findings, while Tawde said his decisions were aimed at benefiting “rural and interior” areas. “I have taken the decisions [of granting approvals to colleges] as per the rights given to me under the Act so that rural and interior areas may get the benefits [from the colleges],” said Tawde.

However, he declined to comment on the political links of these colleges or on his own government’s findings that some colleges lacked infrastructure. When contacted, Danve said the colleges run by the Chhatrapati Shivaji Smarak Samiti were approved based on merit. “I don’t have the details of the proposals submitted by the trust but the approval process was legal,” he said.

In the case of KLES College of Law, Kalamboli, run by the Karnataka Lingayat Education Society headed by BJP MP Kore, the department found fault in the documents submitted but termed it eligible in the second inspection. The department, however, didn’t grant the college approval based on technical grounds.

MP Kore said, “I don’t know about other colleges but my college was approved legally. The department had missed my documents and when I pointed it out, my college was included.” Records show that 12 colleges were approved on August 5 using section 82(5) of the Act. A government resolution was issued immediately announcing approval for 48 colleges.

More than a month later, approval was granted for Thakur Ramnarayan College of Law in Borivali, belonging to Ramesh Singh Thakur, the BJP leader who was earlier a Congress legislator. This was done seven days after the deadline had lapsed and after the slot reserved for law colleges in the western suburbs for the year 2016-17 had been granted to St Rock’s Degree College of Law, also under 82(5).

On August 12, Tawde sent a handwritten note to the education department: “Several public representatives and institutions have highlighted the need for a law college in the western suburbs. Taking this into consideration, Thakur Ramnarayan College of Law has been approved, even though the slot for law college is already allotted this year.” A government resolution to the effect was issued on September 9, 2016.

“My college met all the criteria. We had all the documents in place. I could go to court challenging the state’s earlier decision of not granting approval. There was no foul play involved,” said Thakur. When contacted by The Indian Express, additional chief secretary for higher and technical Sitaram Kunte, whose department had rejected the proposals of the colleges, declined to comment.

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  1. P
    Peoples Person
    Aug 6, 2017 at 4:03 am
    Politics is easy access to tax payers money and bribes. Nobody works for people nor country different political names but thieves murderer extortionists they all look and do what criminals do. Fight each other to deviate tge goals that brought them to power.seeing these political thieves now these gujus are duping tenants by becoming society committee members and charging 2 lakhs per tenant for repair and buying properties by giving fake amount, need transparency both state private and central. De monetization is just a word but made made no difference to politicians but definitely to hurt people
    1. N
      No More Corrupt India
      Aug 5, 2017 at 9:51 am
      some one should get data of colleges run by political parties and thier associat businessmean and file PIL in SUPREME COURT
      1. N
        No More Corrupt India
        Aug 5, 2017 at 9:50 am
        When you see most of students getting 90 marks something FISHY IS GOING ON. These colleges are OWNED BY POLITICALS LEADERS AND THEIR ASSOCIATES. this is huge corription scadanl. Their donations and fees run in lakhs of rupees. IMAGINE 100S OF COLLEGE ALL OVER INDIA. These politicans are sco undresl they ARE DILUTING HIGH STANDARDS OF INDIAN EDUCATION. IN 20/30 YEARS there will not be any BRIGHT STUDENTS COMING OUT OF colleges only jugad students.
        1. G
          GG GVG
          Aug 5, 2017 at 9:35 am
          This govt looks like corrupt than the Congress..
          1. T
            Aug 5, 2017 at 9:34 am
            If UPA -2 was corrupt then NDA-2 is ten times more corrupt------BJP has done more scams in 3 years than Congress did in 70 years-----Bhakts keep drooling 🤤
            1. V
              Vilas Apte
              Aug 5, 2017 at 9:11 am
              The current central and state governments bost that in their era everything is transparent. Here is an example of transparency, despite recommendations against them, the government cleared it to please the ruling party and opposition leaders,who were to benefit. In India politicians of all hues are corrupt to the core, irrespective of their party affiliations. They only know how to boast,and tell lies.
              1. A
                amar singh
                Aug 5, 2017 at 8:36 am
                Not only drinking water but also swatch toilets are also required. Do they have qualified teachers? It seems these money laundering organiations have nothing to do with education.
                1. D
                  Aug 5, 2017 at 8:24 am
                  Why politicians and their relatives get interested in starting their own educational ins ution? They should be debarred from doing so. Do we presume that they have amassed huge money ( and we know how) and open colleges in the name of some trust on which we have no trust. Why any Government approve such proposals- may be to satisfy their men and friends from opposition. Why not they consult the public at large via e mail and publish the list in news papers. Let the public find the need. We are highly qualified to do so. No unilateral hasty decisions should be taken on such issues Politics is a dirty game and it is proved once again.The issue needs to be researched. Erudite comments are welcome. Professor Ashok Deshpande PhD
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