Pradeep Pattanayak

A large number of teaching and non-teaching staff posts in the universities of Odisha continue to remain vacant, pushing these institutions into the doldrums. 

As per reports, in 17 government universities, while 60 per cent of professor posts are lying vacant, 66 per cent of non-teaching posts have not been filled yet. 

The previous government also admitted it in the Assembly on February 7 this year. 

For example, Vikram Deb College in Koraput was upgraded to University in 2023. With this, the signboard of the institution changed but not the education being imparted. It is still in a pathetic state. 

Visiting staff managing the show 

While the institution’s total sanctioned teaching staff is 111, only 26 are somehow managing the show. 

“While both Plus II and Plus III are being run by guest faculties, Plus II is entirely managed by these visiting staff. After being upgraded to a university, 111 posts have been created and the government will appoint regular faculties,” said Ranjan Kumar Pradhan, registrar in-charge, Vikram Deb University.

Similarly, Fakir Mohan University in Balasore is also struggling with the same predicament. 

“The appointment process started by the government has stopped. Since no appointment has been made since 2020 and some faculties have retired, many posts are lying vacant. If the Supreme Court gives its verdict on July 9, the government will resume its appointment process,” said Prof Santosh Tripathy, vice chancellor, Fakir Mohan University. 

“If the vacant posts are filled up, students will immensely benefit,” said Mamata Meher, a student of Fakir Mohan University. 

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The situation at Utkal University is no different. The sanctioned teaching staff strength is 244 but 125 are present. With the posts of permanent professors lying vacant, the advance centres of many departments run by UGC funds are closed now. The appointment of research fellows in these departments has also stopped.  

“It can be said that the universities are in the doldrums. For the last two years, research fellows have not been recruited as there is none to guide them,” said Prof Binayak Rath, former Vice Chancellor of Utkal University. 

Where the problem lies 

 The problem is ascribed to the Odisha government making some amendments to the Odisha Universities Act in 2020 and the subsequent stay by the Supreme Court after it found some anomalies in the Odisha Universities (Amendment) Act. 

Hence, there are demands that the state government should appoint staff as per the University Act, followed since 1989. 

What advocate says 

According to senior advocate Kamalakant Das, despite the stay, the government can appoint as per the 1989 Act. 

“The government can recruit as per the old regulation.  Disputes will arise only when recruitment is done as per the new regulation as it has been challenged. The government has made amendments. At any time, they can write to the Supreme Court, saying they would repeal it. The problem will come to an end,” said Das.

(Reported by Laxminarayn Kanungo, T Gourishankar and Prakash Mohanty) 

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