Monday, February 23, 2015

Govt requests ED to release endowment fund from EIILM’s frozen bank accounts

Plan is to conduct stalled examinations and then arrange for transfer of students to other institutes

The Higher Education Directorate of the Human Resource Development Department has requested the Enforcement Directorate to release “endowment fund” from the Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management [EIILM] bank accounts to allow for the proper conduction of stalled examinations and easing other complications afflicting the students at the university’s Malbasey, West Sikkim, campus.
The ED, it may be recalled, has frozen all bank accounts of EIILM university, and attached all its properties [except the campus in Sikkim] pending investigations of money laundering. Following this, EIILM had suspended classes at the campus last year and students there have been on dharna demanding resolution for two months now. The University management has even demanded that the State Government take over the university, an option that the government is not keen on. Authorities at the HRDD are however at work to ensure that the future of the around 200 students enrolled at EIILM-Sikkim is not jeopardized.
One option being explored is to convince ED to “de-freeze” at least enough “endowment fund” from the EIILM bank accounts to allow for the exams to be conducted and students affairs set in order.
EIILM university’s nine bank accounts operated within and outside Sikkim and having reported deposits to the tune of Rs. 1.52 crores were attached by the Enforcement Directorate on 18 October 2014 along with all the acquired immovable properties outside Sikkim. Following this, the university authorities had stopped all operations, throwing the studies and collective futures of the students enrolled with it out of gear.
The Higher Education Director at HRDD, Jitendra Singh Raje, confirmed that the department has requested the Enforcement Directorate to release the endowment fund to conduct remaining examinations of the 200 students and facilitate their readmission to other institutes within and outside the state.
The Directorate has been closely monitoring the situation at EIILM ever since the management here informed students that it was closing down the university.
As option two, or rather a follow-up option, the Directorate of Technical Education of HRDD has written to all private and government colleges and universities in Sikkim [seeking their response within 10 days] on the possibility of accommodating the affected EIILM students at par with their educational progress and the fee structure at EIILM, in matching courses available with them.
Mr. Raje further informed that the Department has informed EIILM students at meeting held last week that examinations will be conducted within a month and has also assured them placement at institutes within and outside the State.
It is further informed that for the last two months, the Higher Education Directorate has been providing basic facilities and lodging and meals to students staying in the EIILM hostel at Malbasey.
On the question of how examinations will be conducted by the Department when the University management is not around, Mr. Raje informed that the Additional Director of the Department posted at Soreng has taken custody of all the question papers already prepared by the EIILM Examination Cell. Further, around eight faculty members at EIILM-Sikkim are from Sikkim itself and will assist in conducting the remaining examinations and carry out evaluation. Also pressed into service will be assistance from experts from other universities.
He further informed that there are two-three big issues and 12 minor issues involved in conducting the examination and transfer of students to other colleges, and the same has been forwarded to the EIILM management to resolve in the best interest of the students.
The state can facilitate the process and assist the students, Mr. Raje reiterated, further highlighting that the EILLM representation asking the state government to take over the university was not possible since there is no such provision in the Act governing the university. However, in case of dissolution of the university, the State Government can take appropriate action to ensure the interest of the students studying in the university.
These latest developments should bring some hope to the protesting students at EIILM, but then again this issue has seen several false starts in the 70-odd days that the students have been protesting. One hopes that this time around, a proper resolution is worked out because such tensions should not be imposed on students who already have a head full of worries struggling with studies in the hopes of finding employment at the end of their courses. In EIILM’s case, their education itself has been cruelly interrupted.

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