THE HRD Ministry, in an unprecedented move, has decided to move a section of students at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Uttarakhand to another state.
Students in the first, second and third year of the B Tech programme at NIT-Uttarakhand will be shifted to a satellite campus of the institute at NIT-Jaipur for three years, Higher Education Secretary R Subrahmanyam told The Indian Express. Final year B Tech students, M Tech students and PhD scholars will stay back in Uttarakhand.
The move follows protests by students over the location of NIT-Uttarakhand’s temporary campus. They have been on an indefinite strike since October 4 demanding an immediate change in the institute’s location after a third year student of electrical and electronics engineering was hit by a car on NH-58. The students want the temporary campus, which is along the accident-prone NH-58, to be moved to a safer location.
Roughly 625 students of NIT-Uttarakhand will join the satellite campus by December 15 and stay there till the end of their programme. “Their degree, however, will be awarded by NIT-Uttarakhand,” Subrahmanyam clarified.
When asked if the satellite campus was equipped with the faculty strength and hostel facility to accommodate over 600 students, he said, “Some of NIT-Uttarakhand’s teachers will also travel to Jaipur to teach. That apart, NIT-Jaipur has built a new hostel that can accommodate the Uttarakhand students.”
When contacted on Tuesday, NIT-Uttarakhand Registrar Col Sukhpal Singh said, “Shifting the institute to Jaipur is an option we are looking into. However, the details for shifting the campus are being worked out by the HRD Ministry.”
NIT-Uttarakhand was among the 10 new NITs that were sanctioned in 2009 under the 11th five-year plan. The first batch of students was admitted in 2010. Currently, the institute has been operating from a temporary campus in Uttarakhand’s Srinagar Garhwal town.
The institute has 980 students — 866 engineering students, 90 M.Tech students, and 24 PhD scholars — all of whom vacated the campus on October 23 and October 24 stating that would not return to the “unsafe” and “ill-equipped” Srinagar campus.
The institute authorities have since then been continuously approaching students asking them to return to the Srinagar campus to avoid “academic loss”.
The HRD Ministry had first decided to move the institute’ temporary campus to the buildings that earlier housed the Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Limited in Rishikesh. However, the state government refused to move it to any place outside Srinagar.
State Higher Education Minister Dhan Singh said, “We have not been informed yet about the decision to shift the NIT to Jaipur. Our government is not in favour of shifting the NIT to any place outside Srinagar. We have already provided land for the construction of permanent NIT campus in two parts — at Sumari and Jaletha areas near Srinagar. We had recently spoken to (HRD Minister) Prakash Javadekar and he assured us that the permanent campus (at Sumari and Jaletha) would be ready in two years.”
Explained: Decision may trigger similar demands by others
The government’s decision to create a satellite campus of NIT-Uttarakhand in Jaipur is expected to end the two-month-old student strike. The move, however, could create resentment in other NITs. Last year, a section of outstation students at NIT-Srinagar had also urged the Union government to move them out of the strife-torn Valley to another state. Their demand was not accepted. With some of the second generation NITs still operating out of make-shift campuses even a decade after their establishment, the government decision regarding NIT-Uttarakhand may have set a precedent that could spawn similar demands elsewhere.