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Visva-Bharati seeks extra Bangla cash

University seeks additional grant from Bangladesh govt as Centre fails to provide funds to run Bangladesh Bhavana

By Snehamoy Chakraborty in Santiniketan

  • Published 12.02.19, 2:08 AM
  • Updated 12.02.19, 9:40 AM
Bangladesh Bhavana
Bangladesh Bhavana Picture by Indrajit Roy

Visva-Bharati has sought an additional grant of Rs 5 crore from Bangladesh government to run the Bangladesh Bhavana as the Centre is yet to respond to a plea for funds.

The Bangladesh government had provided Rs 10 crore last month for day to day expenses incurred to run the building constructed by the neighbouring country.

The 44,261sqft building was set up with Rs 25 crore provided by the Bangladesh government as a place for cultural exchange between the two countries.

After the Bangladesh Bhavana had been inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina on May 25 last year, the university authorities signed a memorandum of understanding with the neighbouring nation, as per which it provided Rs 10 crore to run the facility.

In July, the varsity had appealed to the Indian government to grant an equal amount for the same purpose

Manabendra Mukhopadhyay, the chief co-ordinator of Bangladesh Bhavana, said: “After we were assured by the Bangladesh government of Rs 10 crore, we appealed to the ministry of human resource development for a matching grant of Rs 10 crore. But we are yet to get any response.”

Bangladesh state minister of cultural affairs KM Khalid (in black sleeveless jacket) gifts a book to Visva-Bharati VC Bidyut Chakrabarty on Monday.
Bangladesh state minister of cultural affairs KM Khalid (in black sleeveless jacket) gifts a book to Visva-Bharati VC Bidyut Chakrabarty on Monday. Picture by Indrajit Roy

Visva-Bharati officials said the university would not have to seek more funds from Bangladesh if they had received the matching amount from the Centre.

“The cost to run the air-conditioned Bangladesh Bhavana is huge mainly because of electricity bills. We had no reason to ask for more funds from Bangladesh if we had received the cash from Delhi,” a senior varsity official said.

“In the past three months, we paid Rs 2.3 lakh in electricity bills. If we get such bills during winter, then we can expect bigger bills in summer,” the official said.

Anirban Sircar, the public relation officer of Visva-Bharati, said: “We have already written to the Bangladesh government for Rs 5 crore more.”

On Monday morning a team from Bangladesh government headed by its state minister of cultural ministry K.M. Khalid visited Bangladesh Bhavana and held a meeting with vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty on funds.

A senior varsity official said interest on Rs 10 crore would come around Rs 65 lakh annually. “We have calculated that around Rs 1.6 crore is required a year to run the Bangladesh Bhavana,” he said.

“If the entire Bangladesh Bhavana needs to be run properly, we have to recruit people and appoint scholars for the research centre there. The building will also have to be maintained. It is impossible for Visva-Bharati to afford the cost from its own funds,” a senior finance department official of Visva-Bharati said.