New Delhi: Four Delhi University (DU) colleges funded by the Union Territory administration Thursday held a press conference to deny Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s allegations that they were misappropriating funds.
Sisodia had made the allegations Wednesday, basing his claims on the preliminary observations of an independent audit initiated by the Delhi government at six DU colleges it funds. According to Sisodia, the findings indicate fund misappropriation at four of the colleges — Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) College, Keshav Mahavidyalaya, Bhagini Nivedita College and Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies.
His comments follow claims from 12 DU colleges, all funded by the Delhi government, that they were facing a shortage of money that threatened, among other things, salary payouts, and electricity and phone bills. These colleges have for months been demanding funds, and have approached Sisodia in the past.
However, Sisodia, who is also Delhi Education Minister, said the four colleges are not paying salaries to staff despite having money. The colleges, he added, had stashed funds in fixed deposits in an “illegal manner”.
At a press conference Thursday, members of the Delhi University Principal Association (DUPA) and the principals of the four colleges denied all allegations, saying the money in the fixed deposits has been drawn from the “Student’s Society Fund”, collected from students over the years.
The funds, colleges said, are meant for welfare of students, including various cultural activities, upkeep of hostels, placement fairs etc., and cannot be spent on staff salaries.
While the Delhi government claimed last month that it has released 23 per cent of this year’s funds, DU Dean of Colleges Balram Pani told ThePrint that the colleges have only received Rs 37.5 crore (13.9 per cent) of the Rs 270 crore annual grant so far. The colleges, he added, should have ideally received 75 per cent, or Rs 202.5 crore, by July 2020.
Colleges deny allegations
At a virtual press conference Wednesday, Sisodia had lashed out at colleges that have been “screaming” lack of funds while stashing money in fixed deposits.
“The colleges have been screaming they don’t have funds and creating noise about the Delhi government not releasing it. In preliminary observations, it has come to fore that these colleges have kept funds in fixed deposits in an illegal manner,” he said. “They are not paying salaries; the university and college administrations are doing politics together. They have crores with them but are not paying teachers’ salaries despite that.”
Sisodia alleged that auditors had found Rs 10.52 crore in Keshav Mahavidyalaya’s account, while Bhagini Nivedita College had a balance of Rs 2.5 crore at the end of 2019-2020. Deen Dayal Upadhyay College, he said, has a balance of Rs 6.5 crore, while Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies “had Rs 3.5 crore in their balance sheet in 2018-2019 and Rs 10.45 crore in fixed deposits”.
However, the colleges in question have said the summaries depict the Students’ Society Funds Account, which cannot be used to pay salaries.
“We deny all allegations against the colleges and condemn the allegations. Sisodia ji has been in the teaching profession and we respect him, but principals cannot be used to do something illegal,” said DUPA president Jaswinder Singh. “If we receive a grant for a purpose, we will use it for that purpose only. Students’ fund cannot be used for paying teachers’ salary and the education minister should understand that.”
The Delhi government, Singh said, “gives grants under two heads – Plan and Non-Plan”.
“It is clearly mentioned in every sanction letter that funds cannot be transferred from one head to the other. How come the Deputy CM is asking the colleges to pay salaries from the Student’s Society Fund, which is collected from students for specific activities and purposes? Any diversion of funds would amount to misappropriation, which we are not doing, but the deputy CM is forcing us to do.”
Poonam Verma, the principal of Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, said the targeting of the colleges is political in nature and an attack on public-funded education institutions. “If the government wants to do an audit, they should look at what we have spent from the funds that the government has given us. The audit is motivated, they are looking at the society funds,” she added.
Deendayal Upadhyay College principal Hemchand Jain said they are in “a very dire state”. “My college is struggling to pay the electricity and phone bill apart from teachers’ salaries, and Sisodia ji wants people to believe that we indulged in misappropriation of funds.”
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