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Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences autonomy at stake!

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Should the Government of Karnataka interfere in the affairs of Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences to play vote bank politics?

Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences(RGUHS), Karnataka a health university established under the RGUHS Act 1994 has completed 20 years since inception in 2016. Sad that this premier health university which controls majority of Medical, Dental and other health science courses across Karnataka does not have a campus of its own. Several factors are responsible for the university to run from the temporary venue located in a wing of the old Sanjay Gandhi Hospital in Jayanagar in Bangalore. Initially the erstwhile governments allocated land in several areas around Bangalore none of them materialised as suitable place to establish a University campus due many reasons.

In the year 2007 when Shri.Kumaraswamy was the Chief Minister of Karnataka the RGUHS Act was amended to incorporate that RGUHS campus would be located at Ramanagaram and land was identified for the same. In the agreement, RGUHS had to provide Rs.120 crore, the Union government would assist with Rs.80 crore and the state government would provide financial assistance of Rs. 110 crore. Without any forethought this decision was taken by then Government to keep their vote bank happy by citing that their leaders had brought a big university to Ramanagaram district. But the plan boomeranged when many farmers approached court against the government order to acquire the land for university campus citing disparity in compensation. Thus the process was stalled for 8 years. But meanwhile the Government had called for a tender which was awarded to an Andhra based construction company in 2007.

In 2015 the Supreme court cleared all litigations pending on the acquired land for the University campus and now Shri.D.K.Shivakumar, the district in charge minister of Ramanagaram took keen initiative to restart the process of shifting of RGUHS to Ramanagaram. At a recent meeting with the university authorities, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had directed them to release Rs 500 crore as per the 2007 tender for the construction of a medical college and hospital on the new campus. The estimate done by Public Works Department of GoK states that it is estimated Rs.580 crores is required for construction of the new campus which would include the administrative building, a medical college and a hospital. But in the new proposal, there is no assistance from any external agencies and the entire burden is on the university.

The Syndicate & the Senate of RGUHS have expressed their unwillingness to toe the Government line asking RGUHS to transfer the necessary amount for construction of the new campus from the university’s reserve. The supreme bodies of RGUHS feel that University needs only an administrative building and the medical college and hospital construction cost should be borne by the Government. More over when a University campus is being built it should be  a world class structure with utility value hence the University wants to go in for a global tender for building the same whereas the GoK is sticking on to its demand of awarding the contract to the erstwhile construction company which was selected in 2007, but the terms of the contract and cost of project have changed drastically and is not in the spirit of the KTTP Act which is the bible for the Government while ordering and selecting the bidders from the tender process.

Now that the Government has arm twisted the University to shift in phased manner to Kandaya Bhavana in Ramanagar a temporary location till University shifts to its own campus which may take years since the land litigation woes are not yet completed and the cost for this temporary shift will cost RGUHS around Rs.5 crores which is a waste of University funds which could have been utilized for other academic activities. 

Hence the following questions arise:

1.    RGUHS is an autonomous university how the GoK is justified in interfering in its activity of going for a global tender for building the campus?

2.    When the Government is not providing any financial assistance to RGUHS how justified it is to ask the University to handover the required amount to GoK?

3.    Why does the GoK want to honour an old tender of 2007 instead of going for a global tender even though it is not as per law? But at the same time the Government does not want to adhere to the promise given to RGUHS about the financial aid.

4.    Do we want another Multi storied building to be built for University campus without proper planning or taking necessary inputs from the experts in building the university campus?

5.    Is the Government aware that once the necessary funds are transferred to GoK for construction of campus by RGUHS the university status of self-reliance would vanish as it may have to depend on GoK for functioning of the affairs of the University due depletion of funds. And Government assurance of Rs.100 per year grant is for running the Hospital not really the managing the  University would it suffice? 

6.    Is the government aware that with the kind of revenue earned by RGUHS which is approximately Rs.60-80 crores per year, can a medical college and hospital be run with this money? As per the GoK estimates Rs.150 crores per year is the amount required to run a medical college, where will the money come from? Do we need another medical college  for the university when there are so many government colleges?

7. Why is government keen on shifting University from a temporary campus to another temporary place with an expenditure of Rs.5 crores from the University funds? 

8. Why is Government averse to the idea of retaining the administrative block in Bangalore which would have helped lakhs of students who visit University from different places across Karnataka and also several public and faculty who would visit RGUHS for their work?

9. Does the Government really have the right to direct RGUHS to transfer Rs.480 crores to PWD department of GoK for building the campus? How justified is Government is utilizing RGUHS funds for building the campus, since it has not given any aid to University till date and all the money collected and accumulated in RGUHS is from students fees and fees paid by colleges? 

The citizens of this state have witnessed how government medical colleges are run and what is the quality of education imparted from these except for a few. When such is the state of affairs, if Government wants to fulfill its social obligation then it should take the initiative to build the medical college and hospital, it should not pass on the onus onto RGUHS.

We the citizens request GoK to stop meddling with university activities. The formation of an autonomous university was supposed ease the Government control, but in reality the government has been increasingly intervening in the construction of the campus at Ramanagaram. Each university should be allowed to make its own organizational decisions. And we want each university to think through its philosophy of education, and seek input from a broad range of people to determine what kind of campus it needs, not the ideas from those politicians who hanker to gain attention of their vote banks. Please do not enforce the Cabinet decision of GoK on RGUHS for the sake of winning votes, there are also other important things this society needs like having a world class campus for a reputed university in Karnataka.


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