JK fails to utilize 117 crore sanctioned for higher education

JK fails to utilize  117 crore sanctioned for higher education

In a major embarrassment for JK’s Higher Education Department, Rs 117 crore released by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) for this fiscal has remained unutilized, leaving a question mark on the ability of J&K Government.

Of the total amount sanctioned and released by MHRD under Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) scheme for JK, only Rs 46 lakhs have been utilized for the launch of the mission directorate.

Officials in the department said the funds were released by MHRD after the Project Approval Board (PAB) meeting held in May last year in New Delhi.

“MHRD released the whole amount proposed by the department in PAB meeting but the performance of the department is zero. There has been no expenditure till date,” officials said.

Given the poor performance of the department to utilize funds, there are apprehensions that MHRD may stop further funding to the department after the next PAB meeting.

“Under this scheme funds are released by MHRD on the basis of performance of the department in utilization of money released in previous PAB meeting,” the officials said.

In the current year the department had to establish two cluster universities, one each for Kashmir and Jammu, besides introducing vocational courses in 20 colleges including nine each in Jammu and Kashmir besides one each in Leh and Kargil.

Notably the funds released by MHRD were supposed to be utilized completely till the month of March this year in order to be eligible for further funding in coming years.

“We have not spent a single penny on any developmental works except Rs 46 lakhs on launch of mission directorate of RUSA which was inaugurated last year in August,” they said, adding, “Release of funds depends on performance of the department.”

RUSA, a Centrally sponsored scheme implemented on the ratio of 90:10 in JK, aims to improve equity in higher education by providing adequate opportunities to socially deprived communities and promote inclusion of women, minorities, SC/ST and OBCs as well as differently abled people.

The officials however attributed the poor performance of the department to the imposition of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) before Assembly elections and floods which made the State Higher Education Council (SHEC) defunct for a long period of time.

“SHEC remained defunct for a long period of time due to MCC and later floods destroyed everything,” officials said, adding, “And now the department is not able to get approval of any initiative in absence of government.”

Notably, State government on December 29, 2013, constituted SHEC after its undertaking was rejected by MHRD in the first PAB meeting held on November 6, 2013.

The committee comprised of 21 members with Chief Minister as its Chairman and Minister for Higher Education as Vice-Chairman.

MHRD in first PAB meeting of RUSA had expressed dismay over the large scale deficiencies in the undertaking and checklists submitted by JK’s Higher Education department that included constitution of SHEC, for formulating an effective education policy under RUSA.

Mission Director RUSA, Jehangir Ahmad Mir, however said major developmental projects were not taken up due to MCC which caused delay in issuing tenders. “But these funds don’t get lapsed. We can use them in near future,” he said, adding that some projects were already in pipeline.

“Development programs were to be taken up by universities, colleges and some construction agencies like JKPCC and R&B department.”

Earlier, the department on launching ceremony of JK mission directorate RUSA had claimed that an amount of Rs 30 lakhs for each college in Jammu and Kashmir was released for recruiting faculty while an amount of Rs 1.350 crore was sanctioned for infrastructural development of colleges in Leh and Kargil besides recruitment of faculty.