VU authorities covering up misdeeds?
9 December 2012biswabrata goswami
MIDNAPORE, 9 DEC: The authorities of Vidyasagar University seem to have suppressed the case of misappropriation of UGC Unassigned Grants funds by former Vice-Chancellor, Professor Swapan Kumar Pramanick, who enjoyed two successive terms during the Left regime in West Bengal.
Prof. Pramanick sanctioned his own travel grants amounting to over Rs 60,000 to attend an international congress in Sociology held in Beijing, when he was the chairman of the UGC Unassigned Grants Committee in its meeting held on 6 May 2004. This was against the guidelines of UGC since the V-Cs were supposed to apply directly to the secretary of the UGC under the Travel Grant Scheme for college teachers/VCs/Commission members according to the UGC website.
Moreover, Prof. Pramanick also did not submit his round-trip air-tickets and boarding cards as proof of his expenditure which is a must in every public institution. Interestingly, Prof Jing Tian Kui, Director of Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in a letter sent by e-mail to Prof Pramanik on 11 November 2003 addressing him as "V-C of VU”, invited him to attend the Congress held from 7 to 11 July 2004 although Prof Pramanik officially had taken over charge as V-C of the university on 1 December 2003.
All this came to light through the replies to a number of RTI applications submitted by Mr Abhijit Guha, a teacher of the Department of Anthropology at Vidyasagar University in 2010.
Based on the replies to his RTI queries, Mr Guha complained to Mr Bratya Basu, the state Higher Education Minister, on 1 August 2011 and also to the UGC Chairman on 16 March 2012. Responding to Mr Guha's complaint, the deputy secretary of UGC sent a letter dated 27 July 2012 to the Registrar, of VU to refund Rs 60, 976 spent by Prof. Pramanick, since the money, according to UGC, was “misappropriated by the former V-C of Vidyasagar University”.
Meanwhile, the West Bengal State Council of Higher Education formed a two-member inquiry committee comprising Prof. Subhasankar Sarkar, Vice-Chancellor of Netaji Subhas Open University and Mr G K Pattanayak, finance officer of Jadavpur University to probe into the matter about two months ago.
Surprisingly, the WBSCHE has not yet issued any public notification nor has it notified the "terms of reference" of the inquiry committee in the public. No one knows what the committee will actually probe and when the inquiry will be completed. On the other hand, the Vidyasagar University authority has not yet refunded the money misappropriated by Prof. Pramanick to the UGC.
When contacted, Mr Ranajit Dhar, Registrar of VU, said: “The money has not been refunded to UGC yet.”
He, however, said the two-member committee of the West Bengal State Council of Higher Education is conducting a probe into the matter. He said: "They have not communicated with us yet."
It was, however, learnt that the committee members visited the Vidyrasagr university on 9 November and talked to the registrar, vice-chancellor and other concerned officials.