An ongoing dispute between the Telangana and Andhra governments that has left lakhs of students in the lurch

Explainer How University students have been caught in stand-off between AP and Telangana govtsFile photo: Facebook/Telangana CMO
news Monday, October 05, 2015 - 16:44

Nearly four lakh students in Andhra Pradesh face an uncertain future after the TDP government issued orders to the Dr B.R. Ambedkar Open University (BRAOU) to stop operations in the state.

“These students will lose their academic year within a week,” Professor C. Prasad, assistant director of the university’s regional coordination centre at Vijayawada told Deccan Chronicle.

However, this order by the AP government is the latest in an ongoing dispute between the Telangana and Andhra governments that has left lakhs of students in the lurch.

How did it begin?

On July 4 this year, common governor for the two states E S L Narasimhan, issued an unusual directive to Telangana Chief Secretary Rajiv Sharma asking him to ensure that Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University and Dr B.R. Ambedkar Open University, both located in Hyderabad, conduct a common admission test for students of the two states.

This directive came a little after a year of bifurcation at a time when the two states were battling for control of institutions including the two open universities, which are among the 142 entities listed in Schedule X of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.

The battle between the two states started after Andhra's Government Order (GO) on June 16, asking heads of 104 institutions under Schedule X to transfer bank balances belonging to the undivided state to its own treasury, or any nationalized bank in the state.

The Telangana government was not prepared to accept this and immediately invoked the AP reorganization act to stake its claim.

The act says that all listed institutions had to be apportioned within a year of the division, failing which, the institutions are part of the state in which they are located, Telangana claimed.

Since most of the institutions are headquartered in Hyderabad, this would greatly benefit Telangana.

Citing this, the Telugu University headquartered in Hyderabad sent an order on August 19, to stop the functioning of the university's campuses located at Rajahmundry, Srisailam and Kuchipudi in AP, in the middle of the academic year in spite of instructions from the governor.

The BRAOU also stopped payment of the salaries to the staff working in its study centres in AP since July.

Following this, the Andhra government immediately approached the common High Court for the two states in Hyderabad, which took up the case and also looked into the decision of the Telangana government not to extend services of the Ambedkar Open University to the regional centres in AP. 

On September 1, the bench directed that the secretaries of higher education of both the states hold a meeting on September 3 to sort out the dispute.

However, the authorities failed to reach an amicable settlement.

On September 5, the bench directed the Centre to intervene and frame guidelines as per Section 75 of the AP Reorganization Act and settle the dispute between the two states within eight weeks. 

The court made it clear that Andhra shall bear the cost of salaries for the teaching and non-teaching staff working in study centres of both the varsities located in AP from the month of August 2015 onwards.

What now?

With the latest order, the Andhra government has stopped paying salaries to the teaching and non-teaching staff of the university even as the university stated that it will not take admissions for the next year and denied students with backlogs to write exams again.

The university administrative staff at the campus in Hyderabad is also reportedly not processing the certificates of students from AP who have completed their course. 

With both the states refusing to co-operate despite an interim order by the court, and a request by the Governor, the students and teachers can only wait and watch until the next hearing of the court on October 30.