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Clock ticks for twin-IIT move
- Bengal dithers, Delhi says decision this year

Calcutta, Sept. 2: Bengal has the opportunity to host two more IITs by the year-end but time is running out for Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government, which has to decide whether it is willing to let slip its control on two colleges for the sake of the status.

Sources in the Union human resource development ministry said it plans to complete the process of converting seven institutions ' Jadavpur University and Bengal University of Engineering and Science, popularly known as BE College, among them ' to IITs or institutes of national importance within this year.

That means the Bengal government has less than four months to finalise its stand on the conversion.

The ministry sources said the governments of the states in which the shortlisted institutions are located have not been given any deadline to offer their opinions on the upgrade, but they will definitely have to decide before the year draws to a close.

“We received the project reports (on the conversion) from the seven shortlisted institutions last month. We are examining them. A committee will be set up soon to make the recommendations on which of the institutions can be finally selected for the IIT and institute of national importance (status),” Arina Garg, the director of technical education in the human resource development ministry, said from Delhi.

Although other state governments have already shown interest in the proposal, the Bengal government has neither accepted nor rejected it.

“It is not that we are against the Centre’s proposal, but we have to thoroughly examine the conditions laid down by the Centre before accepting it,” higher education minister Satyasadhan Chakraborty said yesterday.

Teachers, students and alumni members of the institutions expressed concern over the state’s response.

“It is extremely important for BE College to be converted into an IIT,” said Tarun Basu, an alumnus now working in the University of Texas. “Is it (the IIT status) not beneficial for the state, too'” he asked.

Senior teachers of Jadavpur, too, felt that it was high time for the government to start lobbying for the recognition, especially when the other states have already begun doing so.

A senior faculty member of the mechanical engineering department expressed surprise at the government’s attitude. “It has got a chance to improve the scenario in higher technical education in the state. It should stop dithering,” he said.

However, an official in the state higher education department said that the government would talk to the Centre on the issue only after the ministry makes its final round of selection.

“We have been directed to start negotiating with the human resource development ministry only when it officially seeks our opinion in this regard,” a senior official said.

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