RTI on JNU Swami Vivekanand statue draws a blank

New Delhi: The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), which has been insisting on attributing the source of money for a Swami Vivekanand statue on its campus to an unknown benefactor, has chosen to be vague again on the question of its funding. In its reply to a RTI query posted by the JNU Students’ Union on January 2, the university deemed it sufficient to say that “no JNU funds are being used” for the statue’s construction.

The students’ union had sought the details of the amount allocated for the construction of the statue and the source of that money in two separate RTIs. To its second RTI, it received a similar reply from the engineering department on January 23, which said that the matter did not pertain to it. Taking exception to the opacity, the union accused the authorities of wasting the money meant for academic purposes on the statue.

“It is ironical as any construction in JNU that takes place is done by the engineering department. This construction has been on for over two months, and yet neither the Engineering Department nor JNU’s other departments have any answer to the RTIs.  “(It) shows their culpability in illegality, both in the construction as well as in the channelling of money meant for academic purposes to other things,” the union said.

The decision to install Swami Vivekanand’s statue was taken last year in an executive council meeting, and the varsity had then claimed that it was being funded by a former student “who is voluntarily managing all the expenses involved in making and installation of the statue”.

JNU Finance Officer Heeraman Tiwari had then told IANS that the university is not spending any money on the statue, which is to be installed near the administrative block.

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