Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Amid impasse, people join row over Bihar Central varsity

The Centre-State row over establishing a Central university in Bihar has now percolated down to the aam aadmi (common man) with the people of Gaya — where the Centre wants the institution set up — and Motihari — where the Nitish Kumar government insists it should come up — fighting it out on the streets.

Sanctioned in 2009, the Central University of Bihar has been a bone of contention, with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the State government unable to arrive at any agreement over allotment of land. The MHRD has rejected the Motihari site, citing inaccessibility, and instead chosen Gaya, which is more accessible due to its proximity to Patna.

At present the university is functioning from rented accommodation on the campus of the Birla Institute of Technology (BIT) at Mesra but is under immense pressure to vacate, an eventuality that would jeopardise the fate of hundreds of students. After outright refusal by the State government to allot land at Gaya, the Centre is now trying to get defence land for a permanent campus but the Chief Minister met Defence Minister A.K. Antony and asked him to return the land to the State instead of giving it to the MHRD.

Recently, there have been clashes between the people of Motihari and Gaya over the university. The division between councillors and members of the Legislative Assembly — cutting across party lines — has come out in the open. Protests and dharnas in favour of and against the university at this or that venue have become the order of the day. Meanwhile, Biharis from across the country have written to the Chief Minister, urging him to work out a solution.

The setting up of the university raised hopes among students that they could stay back in Bihar for higher education instead of having to go to other places, the letter said. Students, government employees — studying or serving elsewhere in the country — and many people hailing from Bihar have petitioned President Pratibha Patil (who is the Chancellor of all Central universities), Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Mr. Kumar to amicably resolve the issue.

The petitioners include students enrolled at the Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi), Benaras Hindu University (Varanasi), Allahabad University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, Pondicherry University, JIPMER, Patna University, Ranchi University, Magadh University, school teachers of Patna, a large number of people hailing from Bihar but employed in government offices all over India, particularly the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

Source: The Hindu, April 4, 2012

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