Smriti starts working on new IITs

Smriti starts working on new IITs

BJP manifesto promised institutes in all states

Smriti starts working on new IITs

Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Zubin Irani on Friday started work on implementing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election promise of setting up IITs (Indian Institute of Technology) in every state.

Ministry sources said Smriti met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and discussed the financial requirements for doling out new premier technical institutes to the states which do not have any.

The minister was also learnt to have discussed with Jaitley about the financial requirements of setting up of a central university on Himalayan technology and a national e-library for school teachers and students.

While campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls, Narendra Modi had promised setting up of IITs in every state. The BJP in its poll manifesto had pledged setting up of a central university on Himalayan technology and a national e-library.

Under pressure since Congress questioned her capability to hold the HRD Ministry portfolio raising the issue of her educational qualification, Irani is now pushing hard to implement the poll promises of her party.

Smriti is moving ahead for setting up new IITs in the unserved states, even as the ministry officials strongly disfavoured the idea during her first meeting with them on Tuesday.

According to sources, the officials were of the view that no new higher educational institution should be announced unless land is made available by the states concerned and necessary infrastructure including campus is built on them.

To drive home their point, the official gave examples of the new IITs set up during the United Progressive Alliance regime. Except IIT Mandi, all the seven IITs set up by the previous government are still operating from temporary campuses. The shifting of these technical institutes got delayed mainly because the states concerned failed to allocate land on time.

As a result, the cost of shifting of the new IITs has almost doubled from about Rs 750 crore per institute estimated at the time of the clearance of the proposal by the Union Cabinet in July, 2008.

The NDA government will now have to approve the revised estimates of about Rs 14,000 crore for shifting of these institutes to their permanent campus as the UPA government had rejected the HRD Ministry’s proposal due to financial crunch.

Ministry officials also referred to the 12th Five Year Plan which stresses on consolidation of the existing institutions, their capacity and improvement of quality of education, instead of putting focus on further expansion, sources said.

Smriti, however, remained unconvinced with the views of her officials and asked them to work on the plan to roll out more IITs across the country.