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Sikkim VC swipe at government on land

Gangtok, Dec. 28: The vice-chancellor of Sikkim University today said he would have

to retire without setting up a campus for the institution as he didn’t “know what the state government is doing” on the acquisition of land.

The VC, whose term ends in June next year, said funds allocated for the campus would lapse if the amount was not utilised by April. Mahendra P. Lama also said he would not ask for an extension of his tenure.

“I am not seeking an extension. Five years is good enough and I don’t want to do another five years. I will go back (to Jawaharal Nehru University). I have many academic engagements,” Lama said at a varsity function here today. The central university was established on July 2, 2007 with Lama as the founding VC of the institution.

Although Rs 15 crore was paid to the state government in 2008 to acquire a 250 acre plot at Yangyang in South Sikkim for the varsity campus, it is yet to be handed over to the authorities. Most of the 250 landowners said they would not vacate the plot until proper rehabilitation arrangements were made.

The state government had set up a committee in June to chalk out a rehabilitation plan but it has not yet come up with a concrete proposal.

Sikkim University now functions from 17 rented buildings across Gangtok, incurring an annual expense of more than Rs 1 crore.

“It was my dream to create a fitting campus for a high standard educational institute like Sikkim University. It did not happen and it (the delay) is not because of me. Maybe it will happen after I leave. We were not able to utilise Rs 220 crore of the 11th Five Year Plan because the land was not handed over to us. If we were given the land in 2008, we would have been halfway through by now,” said Lama. “If the University Grants Commission funds remain unutilised, the amount will lapse when the 12th Five Year Plan starts from April 2012,” the VC added.

“We are trying hard that the money is put in a non-lapsable pool but there is no such precedent (of putting funds under the category). We don’t know what the state government is doing on the land issue. The Centre and university had sent many reminders to them,” Lama said.

The university today declared the results of monsoon semester. A total of 4,822 students had appeared for the tests and 4,444 have passed, registering a pass percentage of 95.6.