No space in NDA government's bill for UPA-era policy on IIITs

Previous govt had planned to set up 20 such institutes in PPP mode

A United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-era proposal to set up 20 Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) in public-private partnership (PPP) mode has not found place in a bill that was passed by the Lok Sabha on Friday.

The draft legislation brought by the NDA government seeks to give statutory status and degree-granting powers to the only four existing IIITs. 

Eight other IIITs, set up in PPP mode, have already started functioning from the 2013-14 academic session, and most of their formalities, including identification of land, were almost complete for setting up the rest in eight other states, including Karnataka and Kerala.

According to sources, the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry did not include a provision to set up IIITs in PPP mode in its bill as Education Minister Smriti Irani wanted a re-look into the proposal. 

The ministry also took into consideration a Parliamentary Standing Committee report which had objected to the proposal to allow private-sector participation in setting up these institutes with just 15 per cent contribution in the total cost.  

The ministry is currently examining whether the eight new IIITs should be affiliated to the four existing IIITs or be allowed to function as deemed universities. 

The NDA bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha, stipulates setting up of a council of IIITs on the lines of that of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).

As the bill does not seek to give statutory powers to these eight institutes, they will not be able to grant degrees to their students. “They will have to wait for some time. Since the government has invested in these institutions, the ministry will definitely find a way out to ensure that future of the students is secured,” said sources.

The eight new IIITs are functioning at Kalyani in West Bengal, Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, Kota in Rajasthan, Chitoor in Andhra Pradesh, Guwahati in Assam, Vadodara in Gujarat, Una in Himachal Pradesh and Sonepat in Haryana.

While Karnataka, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Maharashtra, Odisha and Punjab have identified land for setting up their own IITs in PPP mode, Tripura, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Jharkhand have signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with private partners.

The previous UPA government had approved the proposal to set up IIITs in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra,  Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Manipur and Tripura.

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