MU vice-chancellor’s term comes to end, but several big-ticket projects remain on paper | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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MU vice-chancellor’s term comes to end, but several big-ticket projects remain on paper

By, Mumbai
Sep 06, 2022 10:30 PM IST

With barely four days left before his retirement, Suhas Pednekar, vice chancellor of University of Mumbai (MU), is facing a barrage of allegations over the unfinished big-ticket projects he had ambitiously initiated in his nearly five-year tenure

With barely four days left before his retirement, Suhas Pednekar, vice chancellor of University of Mumbai (MU), is facing a barrage of allegations over the unfinished big-ticket projects he had ambitiously initiated in his nearly five-year tenure.

Suhas Pednekar HT Archives
Suhas Pednekar HT Archives

The university administration had allocated 22.5 crore each in 2020-21 and 2021-2022 to make the campuses - Kalina and Fort, and sub-campuses in Thane and Ratnagiri – accessible for persons with disabilities. At present, except for wooden ramps that were installed nearly four years ago, no other facility is in place.

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No one actually thought about disabled-friendly washrooms, access to classrooms on higher floors of old lecture buildings, canteen or library building, or a proper approach road to some of the old buildings, an official from the Kalina campus, requesting anonymity, said. “During monsoon, students seek help from classmates or their parents to cross puddles and broken ramps in order to make it to their classrooms.”

Pednekar, who was the principal of Ramnarain Ruia College between 2006 and 2018, was not entirely unsuccessful in realising his vision. He was instrumental in opening two cluster universities which were aimed to take some of the work pressure off MU.

However, it was his little focus on other projects which invited objections from the students and staff alike. Building hostels for students is a case in point.

For a state university boasting of a high student intake, MU has received flak over the years for lack of accommodation facilities. So, in 2018-19, 3 crore was allocated to build a 500-room girls’ hostel. Three years later, it is yet to see the light of day.

A senior professor said, “Many projects which his [Pednekar] predecessors had initiated have also been stalled. MU is one of the oldest state universities and still manages to attract students from all over the world, but the manner in which it is functioning is pathetic.”

The list of complaints doesn’t end here.

Four years after the university’s National Assessment and Accreditation Council grade expired in 2017, MU managed to renew it in August 2021.

In January 2019, MU inaugurated an incubation centre to establish a start-up culture. However, despite a budget allocation of nearly 5 crore since 2019, not a single start-up has come up.

“No one is heading the incubation centre, and projects are getting stalled despite a 5 crore sanction from the state government,” an official said.

In the same year (2019), MU also announced to start a world-class sports complex on its Kalina campus, which remains on paper till date. This is despite an allocation of around 3 crore since 2020.

Repeated calls and texts to Pednekar, as well as pro-VC Ravindra Kulkarni went unanswered.

“The university turned into a non-functional and headless entity under the Pednekar administration. Since the lockdown in 2020, he has stopped involving himself in many activities, which led to a delay in several projects, including basic needs of teaching and non-teaching staff,” Tapati Mukhopadhyay, president of Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation, said.

Pednekar, who officially took over as the VC in April 2018, is set to retire on September 10. All authoritative bodies, including the academic and management councils, senate, as well as posts of the board of director for examination and pro-VC, will dissolve with his exit.

The process of hiring a new VC is on.

Last week, the higher education department announced their nomination to the VC search committee. Additional chief secretary Anand Limaye will now be on the three-member panel along with Pramod Kumar Jain, director of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-BHU), Varanasi, who was selected by the academic and management councils. The committee chairman will soon be appointed by the governor.

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