The Student centre of Punjab University | Commons
The Student centre of Punjab University | Commons
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CM Khattar writes to home ministry to return Haryana’s equal rights on the Chandigarh-based university, which it had given up in 1976.

Chandigarh: Amid their ongoing battles over capital Chandigarh and Satluj waters, Punjab and Haryana have found another issue to squabble over — Panjab University (PU).

Haryana wants some of its colleges to be affiliated to the Chandigarh-based PU, and in return, has offered a grant to the cash-strapped university which, till recently, was finding it difficult to pay teachers’ salaries. However, Haryana’s offer is conditional, and PU vice-chancellor Arun Grover is unhappy that the university is being made an “election issue”.

PU was initially an institution belonging to undivided Punjab, but when the state was trifurcated in 1966, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh were also given rights over it. The two states, however, gave up these rights in 1975-76. But now Haryana wants its slice of the pie back, a request rejected forthwith by Punjab.

A political move

Haryana’s move is more political than just a way to financially help PU.

At a conference last week, Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh and his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar squabbled over various inter-state issues. Days later, Khattar urged the Centre to restore Haryana’s share in the university. Singh had already made it clear at the conference that Punjab will not allow Haryana to meddle in PU.

A foothold for Haryana in the university would amount to Punjab diluting its claim on Chandigarh as its capital city.

Conditional offer

On 13 July, Khattar wrote to union home minister Rajnath Singh, explaining that the process of restoration of Haryana’s share in PU is required, as over the years, the composition and character of Chandigarh has evolved as a larger entity — the ‘tri-city’ (Chandigarh-Mohali-Panchkula). Besides, a large number of students from Haryana take admission in various advanced and professional courses of PU.

Khattar requested for a notification to be issued by the union ministry that some colleges in Haryana be affiliated with PU.

“These affiliated colleges would be allowed to follow the reservation policy of Haryana for admissions, whereas for admissions in the courses on PU campus, the central reservation policy would be followed. The PU would allow Haryana to follow its own fee structure for such affiliated colleges,” he wrote.

“The earlier pattern of representation of the state of Haryana in the senate, syndicate and board of finance of PU, as ex-officio fellow members (as well as reservation to persons from Haryana in various elected constituencies) would be followed.”

However, PU vice-chancellor Grover expressed disappointment not just at these conditions, but also the fact that the university is being made a political issue.

“We are not an election issue,” Grover said. “We are ready to affiliate Haryana colleges in nearby districts. But why should any party ready to share PU’s burden do so with any pre-conditions?”

Financial struggles

PU was established in 1882 (in Lahore) and was relocated to Chandigarh in 1956. In 1966, it was declared an ‘inter-state body corporate’ under the reorganisation act, a status unique in the country.

After Himachal and Haryana withdrew their share, it was decided that the university’s maintenance deficit would be shared in the ratio of 60:40 by the Centre and Punjab. Over the years, Punjab’s share has shrunk to around 10 per cent.

The Centre gives a little over Rs 207 crore as annual grant to the university, with a 6 per cent increment each year. Punjab gives around Rs 20 crore (recently increased to Rs 27 crore). Haryana has now offered to give an amount equivalent to Punjab’s contribution as grant-in-aid to PU.

“The UGC has fixed 6 per cent as the rate of annual increment regardless of the increase in maintenance deficit. Punjab’s contribution has increased a little following the personal intervention of the chief minister and finance minister. But it is still around 10-11 per cent,” vice-chancellor Grover said.

“The university’s development is stalled because of the lack of funds. Everyone wants to have a toehold in the university, but no one wants to help it financially.”

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  1. Cruel joke. Haryana doesn’t give option of Punjabi as second language although it allows all southern languages. Still it claim Punjab University. Good, tomorrow Khattar ji may claim over moon. No surprise.

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