DU used OBC grant to buy laptops, reveals RTI reply

Campus groups seek inquiry into 'diversion' of funds

The Delhi University bought 62,600 laptops for students of the four-year undergraduate programme from OBC grants, revealed queries filed under the Right to Information Act.

The revelation has triggered a call for independent probe and protests by teachers’ and student groups. 

The university administration, however, said that these grants come under the “OBC expansion funds”, which are provided by the government for meeting the requirements of the expanded intake of students. 

A DUSU office-bearer and an Academic Council member from the Democratic Teachers’ Front (DTF), Amitav Chakraborty, had filed separate RTIs asking for information on the ‘budget head’, under which the university bought laptops for students.  

“Purchases were made under the budget head ‘OBC Grant for University Departments’ and ‘OBC Grant for Colleges’,” the university had said in the RTI reply. These grants came to the university in 2008 for expansion of physical infrastructure in colleges and departments to cater to the increased student intake following the OBC reservation, said DTF in a press statement. 

Infrastructure

Construction of IT-enabled large-sized classrooms, extra science laboratories and lab equipment, computer labs, furniture and faculty rooms – all these were supposed to be accomplished as part of the required infrastructure through the OBC grants, said DTF, arguing that the university colleges and departments lack these physical infrastructures.   

The maximum retail price of each laptop given to the four-year undergraduate student was Rs 27,565.50.

Refuting allegations of diverting funds, the university registrar Alka Sharma said that Delhi University has constantly used the OBC expansion fund for the past three years to upgrade teaching facilties and for building infrastructure. 

She said that the university has seen 150 per cent increase in student intake since 2008.

“The laptops are the property of the colleges concerned and are meant for students of all catergories,” the university said, explaining that the laptops are educational resources meant to support ugraded IT infrastructure. 

The “OBC expansion fund” is meant for boosting the overall infrastructure to facilitate more intakes, said Sharma. She also claimed that the CAG audit in 2012-13 didn’t find a single accounting error. 

However, alleging non-transparency, DTF said, “The Executive Council had met to approve the accounts for the last financial year but its members were not even informed about the specifics when EC member Abha Dev Habib had enquired about them.”

Independent probe

DTF has demanded an independent probe, claiming that diversion of OBC grants is a violation of the government’s directive. 

The Delhi University Students’ Union has also joined the fray and has threatened to protest against alleged misappropriation of funds.

The purchase of laptops is an authorised and legitimate expenditure under the rules and regulations governing the use of OBC expenditure funds, said the university.

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