Himachal promoting private universities, says Congress

March 15th, 2011 - 6:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, March 15 (IANS) The opposition Congress Tuesday sharply criticised the state government over functioning of private professional universities and colleges in Himachal Pradesh.

Participating in the debate over the state budget, state Congress president Kaul Singh said seven of the 10 universities in Himachal Pradesh have come under the scanner of the University Grants Commission (UGC).

“In the last three years, the state government has allowed 10 private universities to set up bases in the state. But only two of them fulfil the eligibility criteria laid down by the UGC and the rest of them have not been recognised by it,” Singh said in the assembly.

“It’s a sad state of affairs that the government has been promoting private educational institutions at the cost of (state-run) Himachal Pradesh University (Shimla). It has been bent upon commercialisation of education,” he said.

The government has also allowed eight private colleges to run management courses, eight pharmaceutical colleges, two law colleges and 16 nursing colleges.

“Out of the 10 private universities, only two - Jaypee University of Information Technology and the Shoolini University of Biotechnology and Management Sciences - have been recognised by the UGC,” Kaul Singh said.

According to UGC website, the seven registered but not recognised universities in Himachal Pradesh are - Chitkara University, Eternal University, Indus International University, Arni University, Manav Bharti University, Baddi University of Emerging Science and Technology, and Maharishi Markandeshwar University. These universities have not even supplied the information sought by the UGC for inspection.

The assertions of the Congress party are significant as even Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has admitted in the assembly that a Punjab-based private professional university, which is setting up its campus in the state, has violated environmental norms.

“Environmental violations have been done by Rayat Bahra University in the construction of phase-II campus in Waknaghat (near Shimla),” Dhumal, who also holds the environment portfolio, said in a written reply in the assembly March 11.

He said the government has observed violations as university authorities flattened a hill by 10 metres against the permissible limit of 3.5 metres.

“Cognizance of this offence has been taken by the Special Area Development Authority of Kandaghat and a notice has been issued March 9, 2011, under the Himachal Pradesh Town and Country Planning Act of 1977,” the chief minister said.

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