With Panjab University facing "financial crisis", the Congress government in the state today assured help to the institute and accused the previous SAD-BJP dispensation of not providing adequate funds to it. "We will try and help them (Panjab University)," state finance minister Manpreet Badal said. However, any decision regarding providing financial support to the Panjab University will be taken after the government comes out with a white paper on the state's finances, he said. "First, we will release the white paper. Then whatever we can do we will certainly do for PU," Badal said. The Congress government had announced that it will come out with a white paper on the state's finances. Notably, PU Vice Chancellor Arun Kumar Grover has written to the Punjab government seeking a meeting to apprise the government about the university's financial situation. "I have got a letter from the VC and I will try to meet him," Badal said, adding he felt sad at the events that unfolded in Panjab University. The finance minister regretted that the state had frozen the funds meant for Panjab University. "Every year Punjab gives Rs 20 crore to PU and this amount has been frozen," he said and accused the previous SAD-BJP government of not properly prioritising the allocation of funds which led to the financial mess. "Can you imagine that the last government spent Rs 2,000 crore on monuments and memorials? They spent Rs 180 crore on Tirath Yatras and gave just Rs 20 crore to PU. Priorities of the last dispensation were wrong," Badal said. "The Vice Chancellor of PU is right that the Punjab government should have provided more support," he said. With PU in a financial mess, it has been getting Rs 20 crore per annum for the last several years after Punjab froze its share to this amount despite it was supposed to bear 40 per cent of the PU's fiscal deficit. Gasping for funds, the Panjab University has now demanded 12 per cent hike in allocations from the state government to meet the rising expenditure. "We are demanding that you (Punjab government) must increase the fund being allocated by 12 per cent from this year.
Every year, expenditure on employees' salary, DA allowances and other expenses has been rising," PU Registrar Guljit Singh said. With a total budget of about Rs 500 crore, the Panjab University has projected a deficit of about Rs 250 crore for fiscal 2017-18. Last month, the university senate raised the tuition fee for several courses which was strongly opposed by the many students' organisations. On April 11, violence erupted at PU campus after students clashed with police during a protest against the fee hike. Meanwhile, National Students Union of India (NSUI) chief Amrita Dhawan said a delegation of students will meet Vice President M Hamid Ansari, who is also the Chancellor of PU, to apprise him of the situation. "We will seek time from Vice President and apprise him of situation," Dhawan said, adding the Centre should intervene and provide sufficient funds to the university. Strongly condemning the fee hike, she said with this, poor students will not be able to get university education. "Education should not be made commodity," Dhawan said.