Bihar: CAG report on engineering institutes spark war of words between government, opposition

A CAG report said that Science and Technology department surrendered 46% of total budget even as state govt sanctioned Rs 3,857 crore for colleges.

Bihar: CAG report on engineering institutes spark war of words between government, opposition Representational Image: Shutterstock
Press Trust of India | Jan 1, 2023 - 6:26 p.m. IST
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PATNA: A war of words erupted between the Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance government in Bihar and the Opposition BJP over a CAG report on the functioning of engineering and polytechnic institutes in the state. A CAG report tabled in the state assembly recently said that the Science and Technology (S&T) department and the Building Construction department (BCD) surrendered 46 and 22 per cent of the total budget provision respectively during the period 2016-21 even as the state government in February 2016 sanctioned Rs 3,857 crore for the establishment of 46 engineering colleges/polytechnic institutes under the 'Avsar Badhe Aage Padhein’ (ABAP) scheme.

“While the period of the scheme was up to March 2021, construction of 18 buildings out of 46 was not completed despite provisioning of funds”, said the CAG's (Performance and Compliance Audit) report on the functioning of engineering and polytechnic institutes (for the year ended March 31, 2021). The report also pointed out that the S&T department could not implement the ABAP scheme properly due to an acute shortage of teaching and almost non-availability of non-teaching staff against the norms prescribed by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) that could adversely affect the quality of technical education.

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While Sumit Kumar Singh, Bihar Science and Technology minister, said “ I can say with full confidence that except in Buxar district, engineering colleges in all districts in the state will start functioning from their premises after March this year.” Bihar BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand claimed that though many new institutes of higher education have come up, older institutions of repute have collapsed.

“The objective of the scheme was also defeated by the delayed acquisition of land, acquisition of unsuitable lands, non/delayed construction of buildings by the BCD, insufficient infrastructure, equipment, facilities etc. The intended objective of the scheme to provide quality technical and skill-based education could not be achieved even after five years,” the report said. The matter was reported to the state government in October 2020. Despite the reminder, a reply is awaited (April 2022), according to the CAG report.

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The Bihar Science and Technology minister told PTI, “I am not bothered about what the BJP is saying about the CAG report on the functioning of engineering and polytechnic institutes…The government has already started recruiting teaching staff and the process will be completed this year. Besides, we have also hired teaching staff on a contract basis”. The BJP spokesperson said that the challenge was how to overhaul Bihar's education system from its “present mess and chaos”. “Nitish Kumar is the sole person responsible for the collapse of the education system in Bihar.

Since 2005, Kumar had kept the education department under JD(U)'s quota. Now he has given the baton to RJD. “The appointment system is very confusing and chaotic. We have still not been able to give monthly payments and pensions to the college and university teachers. The session of the courses is behind schedule. CAG reports since 2005 till date has exposed the Bihar government’s lack of vision and policy implementation in the field of education”, Anand said.

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