Tuesday, May 23, 2017

MU Convocation Hall: Facility rented out to organisations, individuals, says response under RTI

Indian Express: Mumbai: Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
THE HISTORICAL Convocation Hall of the University of Mumbai has been used not only by the varsity for lectures but also rented out to organisations or individuals for events and even Satyanarayan Puja, according to a response under the Right To Information (RTI) Act. In the past 16 months, the Convocation Hall has been rented out on 61 occasions, to corporate houses for annual events, university departments for workshops, media outlets for TV shows as well as university staffers for Satyanarayan Puja, revealed the response by the university to an RTI appeal by activist Anil Galgali.
In yet another revelation, it was found that there was no uniformity in the rent collected from the different parties.
Of the 61 occasions, 23 were held for free —the university did not charge rent from the organisers of the events. On the other hand, media organisation Kautilya Multi Creation Pvt Ltd had to pay over Rs 1.48 lakh as rent for two days for a “TV show” in October last year.
Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies has used the Convocation Hall on the Fort campus at least eight times in the past 16 months and it was charged differently every time, the information received under RTI showed. The rent charged varied from Rs 25,600 to Rs 49,500.
In January last year, the Mumbai Vidyapith Karamchari Mahapooja Samiti was permitted to hold a “Shree Satyanarayan Puja” for free. That month, Bharat Swabhiman organisation was charged Rs 23,950 for an event titled “Yoga- Ayurveda for Advocates”.
In the 16 months, the varsity has collected Rs 11,20,150 by letting out the Convocation Hall. Compared to the maintenance cost of Rs 70,000 a month, the income was paltry, said Galgali.
“The manner in which the university is renting out the Convocation Hall is very random. The Vice-Chancellor is also letting corporate and media houses and outsiders make use of the iconic structure, sometimes for free,” said Galgali, who has written to the Governor and University Chancellor C Vidyasagar Rao seeking streamlining of the process of renting the Convocation Hall.
University officials refuted the allegations. “As an autonomous body, the university holds several events in partnership with other organisations. All events are for the benefit of the students and related to academics. Hence, in some cases, the university offers the hall for free as a contribution to the event,” said registrar M A Khan. He said the rent for the hall is decided by the registrar, the deputy registrar and vetted by the V-C.