New Delhi: An altercation broke out between the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and its administration over the proposal to install a ‘life-sized’ statue of Swami Vivekananda in the campus. Rather than diverting the funds to improve the library at the campus, the administration had spent on the statue and received flak from its students and teachers.

“We’re told that the university doesn’t even have the funds to pay minimum wages to the mess workers. Our issues are being ignored by the VC to please his political masters,” stated Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) Vice President Sarika Chaudhary.  According to a report by Times Now, the statue received a nod from JNU’s Executive Council in June last year. Following the approval, a committee was reportedly established to take care of the project.

The students and teachers union filed an RTI to know about the source of the funds utilized for the statue. On Monday, varsity Registrar Pramod Kumar said in his note, “Jawaharlal Nehru University will be celebrating the singular contribution of Swami Vivekananda to India’s intellectual and philosophical heritage by installing a statue of this great son of India.” The note further said that a former student of JNU had voluntarily managed “all the expenses involved in making and installation of the status.”

University Finance Officer Heeraman Tiwari told IANS that the university is not spending any money on the statue and that it will installed near the administrative block. The students have also alleged that the library budget has been slashed from Rs 8 crore to Rs 1.7 crore by the administration.

A report by India Today quoted Tiwari as saying, “In 2012, the University Grant Commission released a bulk grant under the 12th five-year plan for the library. This was in addition to the regular budget. This additional fund allowed the university to allocate around Rs 8 crore every year for the library until 2017. In 2018, since the additional funding has ended, the library budget is back to the original Rs 1.70 crore.”

The college administration has reportedly requested the University Grants Commission to provide extra funds to develop the library.

(With Agency inputs)