With site undecided, Rajasthan’s wait for IIT gets longer

February 24th, 2008 - 4:42 pm ICT by admin  

By Sanjay Singh
New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) It should have been readying to begin admissions for its own Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), like Bihar and Andhra Pradesh are doing, but the Rajasthan government has not even earmarked a site for the premier institution as yet. Though the central government allotted an IIT to the state alongwith Bihar and Andhra Pradesh in 2006, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has still to decide on which site - Jaipur, Kota, Jodhpur, Ajmer or Udaipur.

Demands from powerful lobbies within Rajasthan is stated to be the reason why a site is yet to be finalised.

“The Rajasthan government is yet to take a decision on a site for the proposed IIT. We are in talks regarding that,” said K.M. Acharya, special secretary in the union ministry of human resource development.

Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh has received a number of representations from senior state politicians and others wanting the new IIT to be set up in different places in Rajasthan.

The difference of opinion over a site can be gauged from the fact that when last year, a team led by Ravi Mathur, joint secretary in the central ministry, visited some sites, including Udaipur, Ajmer and Jodhpur, it failed to arrive at a decision due to lack of consensus.

The central government has sought about 500-600 acres for setting up an IIT, with the requirement that it should be in an area with good road and air connectivity.

The BJP-led government has preferred Kota, some 250 km from state capital Jaipur, as an ideal place since it is already a major hub for technical education in northern India.

Kota, which is teeming with elite coaching schools, sends a record number of successful students to various IITs in the country.

Some estimates say that a third of the 5,000 students who manage to clear the entrance tests for the premier institute are groomed in Kota, which the state government describes as a modern-day Nalanda, the famed Buddhist centre of learning that existed during the Buddha’s times.

According to Rajasthan Industry Minister Digamber Singh, a letter with the sanction of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje recommending Kota was sent to the central government last month. The chief minister reportedly wields a lot of clout in Kota.

But with rival lobbies pitching for their own sites, the matter continues to be undecided.

“In this confusion, we aren’t sure if the institute can start from the ensuing academic year. In fact, it seems highly unlikely,” a senior ministry official remarked.

As a result, while admissions to two new IITs in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh will start soon for the next academic year and function from makeshift campuses in Patna and Medak, Rajasthan will have to wait another year.

There are seven IITs in the country - in Kharagpur, Mumbai, Chennai, Kanpur, Delhi, Guwahati, and Roorkee. These autonomous engineering and technology-oriented institutes of higher education were established and declared as Institutes of National Importance by the Indian government. With the three new ones - in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan - the number will increase to 10.

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