Punjab Assembly unanimously passes resolution slamming Centre's move to grant central status to Panjab University

The House asks the state govt to take up the matter with the Centre so as not to alter the nature and character of Panjab University in any way keeping in view the sentiments of the people of Punjab

Tribune News Service

Rajmeet Singh

Chandigarh, June 30

Amid opposition by the BJP MLAs, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Thursday passed a resolution condemning a move by the Centre to change the status of Panjab University.

The House through the resolution asked the state government to take up the matter with the Centre so as not to alter the nature and character of Panjab University in any way keeping in view the sentiments of the people of Punjab.

The House unanimously felt that any decision to change the character of Panjab University won't be acceptable to the people of Punjab and, therefore, recommended that no change in the nature and character of the university be considered by the Centre. Any proposal in case it is being considered should be dropped with immediate effect, it said.

The education minister said an attempt was being made by some vested interests to push the matter for a change in status of Panjab University into a Central University on one pretext or the other. Be it river waters-sharing, Punjabi-speaking areas or Chandigarh being made the state’s capital, Punjab has been a victim of infringement of state rights, he said.

He said Panjab University has an emotional connect with Punjab and they are ready to do 100 per cent funding to the university.

Opposing the move, BJP MLA Jangi Lal Mahajan said the resolution was to mislead the general public as there was no such proposal by the Centre to change the university’s status. He said the Punjab government had failed to give the 40 per cent grant to Panjab University.

Congress MLA Pargat Singh said it is not only the issue of Panjab University as the Centre intended to take away Chandigarh from Punjab. Effort was being made to make Punjab small in size, he said.

The resolution passed by the House reads, “The House acknowledges and recognises that Panjab University was re-commenced with an Act of the Punjab state namely the Panjab University Act, 1947, after Independence, and subsequently with the reorganisation of the state of Punjab in 1966, it was declared as an Inter-State Body Corporate under Section 72(1) of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, enacted by Parliament. Since its inception, Panjab University has been continuously and uninterruptedly functioning in the state of Punjab. It was shifted from Lahore, the then capital of Punjab, to Hoshiarpur and then to Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab. More than 175 colleges of Punjab, which are situated in the districts of Fazilka, Ferozepur, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana, Moga, Muktsar and SBS Nagar, are affiliated to Panjab University. The entire territorial jurisdiction and the populace, which Panjab University caters to, falls majorly in the state of Punjab, in addition to the area under the Union Territory of Chandigarh, which despite many resolutions of this august house has not been restored as the capital of Punjab only and continues to be a Union Territory.

“The people of Punjab have been intimately associated and have identified themselves with this university right from its inception. Panjab University occupies an emotional place in the minds of Punjabis on account of historical, regional and cultural reasons. The university has emerged as an educational and cultural symbol of Punjab’s legacy and inheritance to the extent that it has almost become synonymous with the state of Punjab.

“Despite the fact that the states of Haryana and Himachal stopped contributing their share of the maintenance deficit grants to the university, Punjab has increased its share from 20 per cent to 40 per cent and has continuously been paying it since 1976. The Haryana government unilaterally withdrew the affiliation of its colleges from the university and transferred the same to the other universities within Haryana, which has reduced the revenue of the university. The Centre vide its notification dated October 27, 1997 ceased the representation of Haryana in various governing bodies of the university.

“This House has observed that the university has been managing and conducting its financial affairs unilaterally. The state of Punjab, however, increased the grant-in-aid from Rs 20 crore to Rs 45.3 crore during the financial year 2020-21, which amounts to an increase of more than 75%. Besides, nearly Rs 100 crore is collected annually by the university from the affiliated colleges located in Punjab. The substantial increase may not be commensurate with the needs of Panjab University, but this is due to the reason that there is no bilateral consultative process in place.”

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