Monday, August 13, 2012

Three years on, IIT-Indore campus gets MoEF nod

Three years after it came into existence, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Indore will finally breathe easy — the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) has decided to give forest clearance to the land earmarked for the institute. This will pave the way for the construction of a permanent campus. The elite engineering school’s first batch of students will graduate in less than eight months.

The MoEF has given an “in-principle clearance to IIT Indore campus” but is awaiting a few certificates from the Madhya Pradesh government and the institute for a formal announcement, a ministry official said seeking anonymity. One of the certificates awaited is a so-called mutation certificate — to be issued by the district collector’s office stating that revenue land equal to the forest land diverted for the institute has been demarcated for compensatory afforestation. “It  is expected that the institute will get its final phase II forest clearance in two weeks,” the ministry official said.

IIT-Indore was set up by an act of Parliament along with seven other new IITs during the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2007-12). The institute, which started its operation in 2009, currently functions from two locations — one inside the Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya (University), and the other from a stand-alone building around 20 kms away.

IIT Indore was awarded some 502 acres, including at least 198 acre of forest land. Unless forest land gets clearance from the MoEF, no construction or formal transfer of land can happen. “We have expanded our academic programmes quite a lot and currently are offering both undergraduate and post graduate courses. You would need a permanent campus to expand your courses and student intake,” said Neelesh K. Jain, Dean (Academics) at IIT Indore. “But forest clearance is not something in our hand. We hope it will come very soon.”

Another government official, who, too, did not want to be named, confirmed the decks had been cleared for IIT-Indore to get forest clearance and that it will receive a formal letter in a couple of weeks. The clearance, however, has come at a price. The institute has paid a compensatory amount of Rs. 107 million under a scheme called CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority). This amount will be used to plant trees on land earmarked to compensate for the loss of forest land that’s been diverted for non-forest use.

Pramath Sinha, founding dean of the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad, said the general perception is that only private institutions face such problems; but, in reality, many state-run institutes, too, face problems from government departments. “In the name of IITs or IIMs (Indian institutes of Management), you are taking students but not giving the IIT or IIM experience both in terms of soft or hard infrastructure. This is sad,” said Sinha, who is opening a private university in Haryana. “Government went in a hurry to open so many institutes for policy sake and vote bank without putting much thought into it.” Currently, India has 16 IITs.

Source: Mint, August 13, 2012

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