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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Delhi University principals deny fund misuse, Sisodia ups attack

On Thursday, the Delhi University Principals’ Association held a press conference to condemn Sisodia’s allegations. In attendance were principals of at least 11 colleges — including Hindu, Miranda House, and SGTB Khalsa — apart from those colleges against which Sisodia had raised accusations.

Written by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi | Updated: September 18, 2020 10:17:08 am
delhi air pollution, delhi air quality, manish sisodia, delhi government, Delhi news, indian expressIn July, Education Minister Manish Sisodia had said they would be re-engaged as part of the remote teaching-learning plan.

A day after Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accused six government-funded Delhi University (DU) colleges of misappropriation of funds, principals of several DU colleges called his statements “baseless” and “unsubstantiated”.

On Wednesday, Sisodia had accused the administrations of Keshav Mahavidyalaya, Deen Dayal Upadhyay College, Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies and Bhagini Nivedita College of having crores of rupees lying in college accounts while saying they are unable to pay their staff salaries due to fund shortage. He had said this was revealed in a preliminary report of a special audit initiated by the government in the colleges.

On Thursday, the Delhi University Principals’ Association held a press conference to condemn Sisodia’s allegations. In attendance were principals of at least 11 colleges — including Hindu, Miranda House, and SGTB Khalsa — apart from those colleges against which Sisodia had raised accusations.

In response, Sisodia continued to allege lack of transparency in the colleges and questioned how they have raised funds in college fixed deposits.

In a statement Thursday, he said: “…money in their FDs is consistently increasing. This money is not provided by Delhi government to deposit in the FD. Some colleges have FDs that have up to Rs 15 crore-Rs 30 crore. What portion of this money has come from which source? How is it being used? This needs to be investigated by the audit team. I hope the DU administration will co-operate… in investigating the possibility of corruption…”

The prinicpals, however, held that the money in college accounts, which Sisodia referred to, was in the colleges’ student society accounts and cannot be used to pay staff salaries.

“We deny the allegations and condemn them. Such statements are not expected from the office of an education minister… These funds are generated from students and are to be used for student-centric purposes such as extra-curricular development, student activities, recruitment drives, festivals. Any diversion of funds would amount to misappropriation,” said Jaswinder Singh, DUPA president and principal of SGTB Khalsa College.

Among the allegations that Sisodia had raised was that one of the colleges had spent Rs 25 lakh on “donations”. Preliminary observations report of the special audit stated: “During FY 2017-18, the college donated Rs 25 lakh for ‘Atal Incubation Centre’ out of the student society fund account.”

“It is an extremely irresponsible statement to refer to the Rs 25 lakh as a ‘donation’. It has been committed — and not even spent — by the college as seed money for skill development through an Atal Incubation Centre. It has been done from the Student Society Account for a student-centric purpose,” said Manoj Sinha, DUPA secretary and principal of Aryabhatta College.

According to a statement released by the association, the fund requirement from the government in the current financial year is Rs 270 crore across the 12 colleges fully funded by it. “Ideally, 75% of the required grant, i.e. Rs 202.5 crore, should have been released before July 2020, whereas only Rs 37.5 crore has been released till date,” read DUPA’s statement.

In the statement, they also questioned the basis on which colleges were selected for the special audit. “Is it because the members of their choice could not be elected as chairperson in the governing body of these colleges? If that is so, it amounts to scuttling the democratic process,” it said.

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