The arrest of K Narayan Rao, member secretary, All India Council for Technical Education by the Central Bureau of Investigation while accepting a bribe from the owner of an engineering college in Andhra Pradesh has brought the unsavoury happenings in the apex body governing the technical education in the country under the scanner.
Though there have been allegations, rumours and complaints about the rampant corruption in the body at the highest level; the managements of private colleges been talking in hushed tones about how they were being made to pay through their nose for various approvals and clearances -- this is first time that a senior official was caught red handed.
Prof K Narayan Rao, who was appointed to AICTE in 2006, is no stranger for controversies and allegations of corruption. His name figured in such allegations even when he worked in the College of Engineering, Osmania University.
After arresting him red handed and recovering Rs 5 lakh from him, the CBI has carried out raids and searched his residences both in Hyderabad and New Delhi. Details have started emerging about the modus operandi adopted by Narayan Rao and other higher dignitaries at the AICTE.
The CBI has also arrested a middleman SB Subba Rao from Ongole who used to demand and arrange the bribe money by the private college owners to Narayan Rao. In this particular case, which proved Narayan Rao's nemesis, a deal was struck for Rs 20 lakhs.
But the owner of the college from Andhra Pradesh, piqued over continuous harassment by Narayan Rao and other AICTE officials approached the CBI, which laid the trap for Narayan Rao and caught him.
The CBI has also booked cases of bribery against the AICTE chairman R A Yadav, advisor HC Rai, deputy director Robinder Randhava, and regional officer Om Dalal. The complainant told the CBI that he faced harassment and deliberate delays from all these officials in different matters. They include issuance of letter of approval for starting the college in 2007-08, approval of extension of the college in 2008-09, and approval of increase in the seats in 2009-10.
While the managements of the private colleges were unhappy over the harassment and demand for money, the officials of the state higher education were also dejected with the AICTE for giving approval to the colleges indiscriminately even though many of them lacked basic infrastructure and facilities.
Many an eyebrows were raised when AICTE approved as many as 250 engineering colleges and 200 MBA colleges in the last couple of years,many of them yet to open. Such was the failure of AICTE in verifying the eligibility of these organisations to run the colleges that subsequently the universities refused to give them affiliations on the ground that they did not have the required facilities.
It permitted 103 MBA colleges with about 8,000 seats for the current academic year alone in Andhra Pradesh. This has taken the total number of MBA colleges to 601 and total number of seats to more than 40,000.
It is obvious that the decision to act against AICTE this time was taken at the highest level as minister of state for human resources and development D Purandareswari wrote a letter to his senior Kapil Sibal, drawing his attention to sordid happenings in the AICTE and blamed it for the decline in the standard of technical education in the country.