“Support the new IITs”, says HRD minister Smriti Irani to the old ones

November 14, 2014

Aiming at getting the new IITs off the ground by the next academic session, the Smriti Irani led Union Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry has asked the older established IITs to step in and handhold and mentor the upcoming ones. At a meeting with IIT Directors last week, the HRD ministry has put together an action plan to get the new IITs started. While IIT Madras will be handholding two new IITs—one at Tirupati (Seemandhra) and another at Palakkad (Kerala); IIT Delhi has been asked to mentor IIT Jammu. IIT Bombay will be shepherding IIT Goa. One of the newer IITs, IIT Hyderabad will also pitch in by mentoring the IIT at Chhattisgarh. While there are already 16 IITs, another five were announced by the BJP government when it took charge this year. The mentoring IITs will send some of their own faculty members to the new institutes to help them move forward besides recruiting some faculty members on contract for the new IITs. The mentoring formula was followed last time as well when the new IITs were set up by the UPA government in 2008-09. The HRD ministry will soon move a cabinet note to get the five new IITs started. There are some issues regarding the site for the IITs at Chhattisgarh and Jammu. While the Chhattisgarh state government has been pushing for locating the new institute at Bhilai, the Centre has asked them to examine the possibility of considering sites at New Raipur which is developing as an education hub and is also better connected. There are also concerns about the proposed IIT in Jammu’s Samba district which is not as well connected, a factor that usually deters from drawing faculty to remote locations. Goa is also yet to indicate where exactly it will house its IIT. There are also issues regarding land availability for the new IITs. While the HRD ministry usually earmarks about 500 acres for any IIT, Chhattisgarh has so far only indicated availability of 270 acres as has Goa. This it is argued can come in the way of expansion of the IIT at a later stage. Among the established IITs, IIT Delhi is spread over the smallest area- 293 acres and it finds it difficult to expand now. The HRD ministry has also set up a committee to reassess land requirements for educational institutes keeping in mind land availability concerns in urban areas. Having learnt their lessons earlier when the spate of new IITs announced by the UPA took years to take off owing to land acquisition issues, this time the HRD ministry has added a precondition. The ministry has said that it will not start the new IIT in the next academic session unless the state government provides the required land for the campus and transfers it to the IIT with a boundary wall built around it. In case of IIT Indore, the Centre had a difficult time in the past with the state transferring land which was then mired in controversies with others staking claim to it.

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