It is an ambitious plan that seeks to expand Delhi University to six new campuses in Maurice Nagar, Dhaka, Karkardooma, Najafgarh and Bawana, and add three new hostels and a building of the Faculty of Management Studies in South Campus. But describing the construction rates quoted in the Rs 4,700-crore plan as “inflated”, the Union human resource development ministry has junked the expansion and advised the university to seek funding through Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA).
At a meeting of DU’s finance committee in February, the MHRD nominee, who is also a financial advisor in the ministry, objected to the rates quoted by the university’s Building Committee for the construction.
Documents on four projects presented at the meeting, copies of which are with TOI, quoted Rs 70,000 per square metre as the construction cost, with the rate for the extension of Central Institute of Education being Rs 76,327 per sqm. A source present at the meeting reported that the HRD nominee said the correct rate should be in the range of Rs 35,000- 45,000 per sqm. “Even in north-east Delhi, where the cost of construction is higher, it is around Rs 45,000 per sqm,” the official said, according to the source.
A senior HRD official later said, “The inflated estimate is not a major issue and can be worked on. However, DU must raise the funds from HEFA, and itself contribute 10% of the costs over 10 years.”
For his part, DU vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi confirmed that the estimates were being re-examined. “These are major projects being planned after a long time in the university and will benefit a large number of students,” said Tyagi. The university authorities added that after the estimates are vetted, a fresh proposal would be put before the finance committee before getting the final approval at the Executive Council. In a letter to DU before the February meeting, MHRD had stated that there would be no new grants-in-aid for infrastructure development.
The letter said that all central universities had been instructed to undertake major infrastructure projects through HEFA and not through grants-in-aid from MHRD or the University Grants Commission.
This is the first major development plan in three years, but the finance panel sources said the incumbent administration erred by not consulting CPWD when preparing the project estimates. As another committee member pointed out, “The MHRD nominee cited the figure of Rs 4.2 crore for constructing a reading room and wondered whether the university was planning a reading room or a five-star set-up.” V K Agrawal, member of the finance committee, however, said DU should demand funds for building the new campuses and hostels instead of going via HEFA.
He also asked the vice-chancellor to have the construction rates re-examined.