Seven year has passed by since a grant of 136 crore was sanctioned to set up Bihar’s Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) center in Kishanganj under Congress-led UPA government in 2013. But only 10 crore amount has been released so far, which threw the center in a debilitating situation.
Local activists and political leaders have been raising issue of fund cruch for the center but Central government is yet to pay attention to it. Lately, the issue came into light again as Congress MP Mohammed Jawed from Kishanganj is consistently raising issue at different places for some time now. Last month, he raised the issue in the parliament during zero hour.
“I want to remind you that in 2013 when UPA was in power, AMU center was opened taking into account the educational backwardness of the district,” he said in the parliament. “But unfortunately in the last 7 years, the remaining amount 122.82 crore was not released despite I have raised the issue in the house multiple times. I want to appeal to Finance Minister with folded hands to release the remaining amount and allocate more grants around 200 or 500 core as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been talking about ‘Sabka saath and Sab ka Vikas’.”
For three days from 8 to 10 March this year, he stood in front of Mahatma Gandh’s statue in the parliament with the poster “Release Fund, Save AMU Center, Kishanganj” demanding the release of the remaining amount sanctioned for the center. Two Congress MPs Shashi Tharoor and Gurjeet Sing also joined him in his demands for the AMU center on two different days.
Earlier, he also wrote a letter to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in this regard. Sitharaman replied the letter saying that she had received the letter on this. She did not say anything about the grant.
On 22 February, he also launched online and offline signature campaign for it. The online petition ‘Release Funds for the Aligarh Muslim University Centre in Kishanganj’ addressing Prime Minister Narendra Modi has received 9,793 endorsement till this report.
Talking to Maktoob about the fund crunch for the AMU center, Jawed blamed the present government for failing to release the allotted fund.
“Although the UPA-led Government did allot land for facilitating the institution of professional colleges by providing land for the establishment of Aligarh Muslim University Centre, Kishanganj and later in the fiscal year 2013-14 the same government allotted Rs. 135.4 crores. UPA Government had released ₹10 crores in the fiscal year 2013-14. It is unfortunate that present government has not released any amount from the year 2014 onwards,” he said.
He is upset that despite raising the issue in the parliament and other platform, he received “no affirmative response” from the Central government. Now, he feels that joint efforts by the citizens and residents of Kishanganj to pressure the government can yield any result in this regard.
He also lamented at the backwardness of his district and the entire region of Seemanchal due to “absence of development of infrastructure facilities”.
Muslims account for nearly 67 percent in Kishanganj. The Muslim populated region is backward, both in terms of its socio-economic standing and its infrastructure indicators.
“The absence of development of infrastructural facilities makes it difficult for children to acquire professional education, due to financial instability in the majority of the households. At the same time, the poor situation of the educational infrastructure in Seemanchal also implies the deficiency of scholars, researchers and academicians, whose inputs and contributions are necessary for the evolution of a particular town,” he said.
He further emphasized “As of today, the constant efflux of the masses from Bihar to other parts of the country is primarily due to the lack of adequate education facilities and hence, the narrow scope of enjoying a satisfactory lifestyle – ultimately, this vicious cycle is negatively impacting the growth of this region and even Bihar and any further in implementing the aforesaid remedy shall only aggravate these social crise.”
The fund crunch deeply affected the AMU center as it has not its own infrastructure for functioning. Currently, the Center is being run in only two temporary buildings given by the state’s Nitish Kumar government.
Director of the Center Hassan Imam told this correspondent that the center is surviving by the fund it receives from the University. “The University is running this center from its own fund,” he said. The Center has currently 27 staff whose salary are being paid by the University.
In the begining, two courses – MBA and Bed were started at the center. But currently MBA course is only being taught. In 2018, BEd course has been halted by NCET (National Council for Teacher Education) alleging that the center did not take prerequisite approval from it. Imam said that there is a case going on in the Patna High court in this regard.
The Center has not its infrastructure. Bihar had government allotted the land 224 acres for the center near Mahanada river but it is also facing legal issue as the NGT raised red flag over the allotted land.
Imam said that he did not write to the government in this regard assuming that the University administration in Aligarh will write about it. And the University did not write because they thought since the allotted land has not clearance from the NGT, where the infrastructure will be developed.
“I want to appeal to Modi ji that we need fund to run this center. The objection by the NGT over the allotted should be revoked as the university does not create any pollution. This issue has been raised unfairly. The University would bring greenery there. It will generate employment there. Therefore, I request Modi to help the AMU center to develop this backward area,” he said.
All India Malis Ittehadul Muslimeen’s (AIMIM) state president and recently elected MLA Akhtrul Iman hails from Kishanganj and also raised the fund issue of the center at different points of time. He told Maktoob Media that the Central government as well as the University are responsible for the worsening situation of the center.
“On one hand, the intention of Central government is not good and on the other, the university administration is not making consistent efforts,” he said adding that he had raised this issue when he met chief minister Nitish Kumar recently. Kumar assured him to look into this matter.
He also warned of launching a people’s movement if the government failed to pay attention to the need of the center.
Waquar Hasan is a journalist based in New Delhi.