Rs 8.6 lakh spent on JNU VC's home in 4 months; Students still await fellowships

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According to a Right to Information (RTI) response, the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration has spent more than Rs 10 lakh on seven different projects at the vice chancellor’s home over the course of two years. 10 lakh rupees were spent, but only 8.6 lakhs were spent in the four months from February 18 to May 12, 2022. On February 7, 2022, Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit became the newest vice chancellor of JNU.

The revelations through RTI have come at a time when JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) along with the student community has been sitting on an indefinite strike for the past four days alleging that the students are struggling to clear mess dues because “Merit-cum-means (MCM) is not being released by the university.” According to the protesting students’ demands, the JNU administration must “immediately” discuss the pertinent issues on campus. According to an RTI response, the engineering department at JNU reported that it spent Rs 10,04,045 on seven distinct works at the JNU VC office between 2020 and 2022, which is more than double the estimated/sanctioned cost of Rs 9,74,946. The RTI was filed by Madhurima Kundu, AISA secretary at JNU, pursuing a PhD in Economics.

On June 23, 2022, an RTI was submitted, and on August 23, 2022, a response was provided in response to the queries addressing the work at JNV VC’s home. In March 2022, Rs 4.25 lakh was spent on replacing the ACs in the JNU VC’s home. Following the incidence of a student being hurt due to the collapse of the roof of the Sabarmati hostel, the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the ministry of education awarded Rs 56.34 crores to JNU on April 14 for hostel repairs and maintenance. Following is the breakup of different activities carried out under the supervision of JNU’s engineering department at JNU VC’s mansion.

“To restore the VC House, the JNU VC spent more than Rs 8.6 lakhs in just 4 months, from February to May. ACs and geysers have been purchased. Numerous renovation projects are still in progress. Our fellowships are not, however, being paid out on time. In order to register for the semester, we must pay our mess fees. Due to the fact that their fellowships have not yet arrived, many students are unable to do so. Student activists who demonstrate against tuition increases and seat reductions face fines of up to 10,000 rupees, according to Kundu. Anup Kuksal, a finance officer at JNU, and JNU registrar Ravikesh did not return calls.

JNUSU claimed in a statement that the students had been “denied right” and that they had been persistent in their demands for new dorms, books in the library, or the opening of reading spaces. In the meantime, the JNU today hosted a Bhoomi Pujan to create a “Tribune Wall.” When thousands of crores are spent on campus beautification under the guise of nationalism, it is extremely disgusting to see the apathy with which JNU Administration is handling the pressing issues of students in the campus. The students also registered a silent protest at the event and highlighted the “worsening condition of the campus.” According to JNUSU, the students must live in hostel rooms with crumbling ceilings, no running water, and no scholarships.

Mayank Tewari

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