Fees Reimbursement: Engg colleges, government talks fail, colleges threaten to shut down from Feb 16th

Managements of over 600 engineering colleges in the state have threatened to close down their institutions from February 16 after talks with the state government over release of funds under the fee reimbursement scheme for socially backward students failed on Friday.

During the talks with the college managements, the state offered to release Rs 600 crore while the managements demanded the immediate release of at least 50 per cent of the total dues. In all, the state government owes Rs 1,774 crore to the over 600 engineering colleges as dues under the fee reimbursement scheme.

Apart from engineering colleges, the functioning of most of the 350-odd MBA/MCA colleges in the state too are likely to be affected as they are owned by the same managements. Last year too, the colleges had shut down and resumed functioning three days later after the state called them for talks and released the funds.

Social welfare minister Pithani Satyanarayana told the media after the meeting that the government had assured the engineering college managements that it would release Rs 600 crore now and another 50 per cent of the remaining dues by March-end. But the college managements did not agree to this, he added.

Meanwhile, college management representatives said around 200 engineering, MBA and MCA colleges in the state would be forced to shut down if the reimbursement fee scheme funds are not released. "We do not receive the funds regularly. How can the government expect us to run the institutions. We will have to close them down," said K V K Rao, spokesperson for the Engineering College Managements' Association.

The managements said that the government is planning to streamline the scheme by 2012. "The government representatives have assured us that by 2012 they will be able to release funds on a quarterly basis. But till then, we cannot run the classes," said Rao. He added that the government appeared to be uncertain whether the scheme would be continued in the near future.

However, a section of engineering colleges said they would not join the strike as they were satisfied with the government's assurance to release Rs 600 crore. They, however, said that if the funds were not released by June, they would go on strike.
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