No fund crunch like last year, claims CSIR

February 13, 2018 09:01 pm | Updated 10:23 pm IST - NEW DELHI

File photo: CSIR Director-General Girish Sahni

File photo: CSIR Director-General Girish Sahni

Even though it got only a 3.3% hike in the Union Budget, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has said it no longer faces a fund crunch like last year. This was because it didn’t pay out as much money towards settling pension arrears as anticipated.

Last year, CSIR Director-General Girish Sahni had said in a letter to staffers that the organisation had only about ₹360 crore, a fourth of the roughly ₹1,200 crore, for funding new research projects and that the organisation had to make a committed effort to raise money from external sources.

Increased salary outgo

The crunch was primarily due to the organisation having to meet the increased salary outgo from recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission and a ₹1,650 crore-hit towards meeting pension requirements.

“However, we didn’t have to pay as much as we’d anticipated,” Mr. Sahni told The Hindu during a conference to discuss budgetary support for science departments. He didn’t however give updated figures.

According to the outlay for the year, the CSIR spent ₹4,500 crore last year and this year has been allotted ₹4,734 crore for 2018-2019. There are no detailed breakdowns of how this money has been apportioned. The CSIR has 38 labs and about 4,000 scientists in its network.

“We have identified several programmes for funding and the move was part of CSIR’s larger mission to move towards attracting more external funds and financial self-reliance,” Mr. Sahni added.

Greater scrutiny

A director of a CSIR lab who didn’t want to be named said that there was a greater scrutiny of funds but deserving projects didn’t face any shortage. “There have been projects in the past that wouldn’t have been funded anywhere but would be funded here. That has stopped,” the director explained.

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