Press Trust of India|Feb 2, 2023
‘Very limited allocation’ from centre, Delhi University seeks Rs 940 crore HEFA loan
DU, a central university, told the education ministry it didn’t get enough funds for even one building in 2017-18.
NEW DELHI: Having received “very limited allocation” over the past few years, Delhi University has submitted a revised proposal for a loan of Rs 940 crore from Higher Education Finance Agency to the education ministry. DU had earlier submitted a proposal for a Rs 1,075 crore HEFA loan.
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In its letter to the education ministry, sent in mid-November, DU said that during 2017-18, the university was only allotted Rs 10.65 crore for building infrastructure which was “not taken up” as it was a “very little amount in which no building could be constructed”.
It had said in its initial loan proposal that DU was granted so little funds that the central university under the union education ministry was “not able to purchase even a single major lab equipment”.
Now, Delhi University has submitted a revised proposal for a loan of nearly Rs 938.33 crore from the education ministry as the university feels it is “in dire need to have additional infrastructure facilities”. It has also requested the education ministry’s permission to utilise unspent funds for infrastructure development. This letter and the loan proposal is part of the agenda for discussion at DU’s Executive Council meeting scheduled for December 8.
DU faces ‘huge expansionary pressure’
The proposed loan will be under HEFA, a non-banking finance corporation set up by the education ministry to extend infrastructure loans to public universities. These loans were to eventually replace grants; unlike grants, the principal amounts of the loans had to be repaid by the borrowing institution while the interest would be budgeted for by the government.
Delhi University is also “expecting to generate sufficient internal revenue” in the coming years to repay the HEFA loan. When the loan was initially proposed in March 2022, many teachers feared that DU would simply transfer the loan burden to students by increasing fees.
Delhi University’s letter says it is facing “huge expansionary pressure” as no construction work has taken place in the university for long due to various reasons including Covid-19 lockdown. It also said that the economically weaker section (EWS) expansion, which provides 10 percent reservation for the upper-caste poor, has placed extra pressure on academic functioning.
Insufficient grants from UGC
Delhi University also requested permission from the ministry of education to utilise unspent funds by the university and use it for infrastructure as many of its buildings are in “old, dilapidated condition”.
The university noted that it “has not received sufficient grants” from the University Grants Commission (UGC) for infrastructure development. According to the letter, the university received a “very limited allocation” for infrastructure building over the last three to five years, to the extent that DU struggled to purchase lab equipment.
It also accused the UGC of delays in allotting funds. “The university is continuously requesting the UGC to grant permission to utilise the unspent amount since the closure of Plan Period. There was no delay on the part of the university. Somehow UGC took long to consider the nature of urgency, while it has come to our knowledge that other universities have been considered and permitted to utilise unspent funds,” it said in the letter.
DU said that the UGC only released funds on March 19, 2022, after “due examination and consideration”.
Delays in project approvals
The university also said that there were also many delays in project approvals as a large area of the university falls under Delhi Ridge, a protected area under the forest department. It said that multiple approvals are required for construction in this area which was not given despite “multiple follow-ups” by the university.
DU said that if unutilised funds are released it can finish urgent repair works by March 2025.
The university had earlier, in March, submitted a proposal of Rs 1,075 crore HEFA loan which was later revised to Rs 950 crore. The funds will be used to construct a new building for faculty of technology, two academic blocks in Delhi School of Economics, three new academic buildings across Delhi and improvement in Wifi and network connectivity.
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