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Sibal push for affordable research

- Union HRD minister lays NIT Sohra campus foundation stone

Sohra, Oct. 12: Union human resource development minister Kapil Sibal stood in the “lap of heaven and in god’s own country” today and called for a solution to the problems of the residents of Sohra through applied research at an affordable cost.

Sibal landed in Sohra, once the wettest place on earth, this morning to lay the foundation stone for the construction of the permanent campus of NIT Meghalaya.

The NIT campus, one of the 30 such institutions across the country, will be constructed on an area of 200 acres at an initial cost of Rs 250 crore at Saitsohpen village in Sohra.

The first phase of the mega project will be completed by 2015.

“This is the lap of heaven; god’s own country, which is far away from the humdrum of city life. The serenity of this place will be the right kind of environment to achieve levels of excellence,” Sibal said after laying the foundation stone.

Touching on the NIT system, he said the students of the institutes were expected to address the problems afflicting their respective states in the areas of eco-system and bio diversity.

“I am aware that Sohra has a lot of rainfall and yet it suffers from water crisis because of the nature of the terrain. I think that when institutions like NIT are set up, these are the issues that must be addressed. It is time for us to conduct applied research besides academic research and use knowledge for the resolution of the problems around us.”

Sibal also said the solutions, which should be affordable, impact the lives of the locals.

Turning to chief minister Mukul Sangma, who was also present on the occasion, Sibal said he would like to see the NIT as a “world class” campus. “It should be a campus where young people not only feel comfortable, but are also inspired to remain committed to the institution,” the minister said.

He said world-class facilities should be put in place so that faculty from all over the country and also abroad come to the institute.

“It (making a world class campus) is not an easy task, but it should be accomplished. I come here with a lot of hope,” he added.

While stating that 50 per cent of the seats in the NIT would be reserved for students belonging to Meghalaya, Sibal stressed on the importance to open opportunities for students from outside the state for a better understanding of mindsets. “It is time for everyone to realise that the youth from this part of the country have great aspirations which can only be realised through the setting up of high-quality institutions,” Sibal reasoned behind the setting of NITs in the region.

The NIT at Sohra has been established by the Union ministry of human resource development as an institute of “national importance” to play the role of a catalyst in the development of the state.

The institute commenced its activities in 2010 with Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology (SVNIT), Surat, as the mentor institute where the first batch of 90 BTech students got admission in three disciplines.

The institute started functioning on a temporary campus in Shillong in November 2011 with the joining of a regular director.