Calcutta, Jan. 27: Higher education minister Bratya Basu today announced that 34 colleges would be set up across the state but did not specify where land and funds would come from.
The announcement, made during the annual conference of the government college teachers’ association, comes at a time the state is staring at an accumulated debt of over Rs 2.3 lakh crore and has decided not to involve itself directly in acquiring land.
Basu did not specify any deadline, another indication that implementing the idea is easier said than done. “I can’t say anything else… I have said from the dais whatever I had to,” he said.
The state has 35 government colleges that get grants from Writers’ for all expenses and around 500 government-aided colleges that rely on the exchequer for salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff
“The total higher education budget for this year was Rs 240 crore. Even if the government spends the entire amount, the promise cannot be fulfilled,” a college teacher said.
According to Basu, 10 colleges will be set up in the two Midnapores, five each in North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur, four in Nadia, three in Burdwan, two in Purulia, Bankura and Darjeeling each, and one in Calcutta.
Setting up a college, a principal said, would require at least four acres for the campus. “I don’t know if the cash-strapped government is in a position to spend on land, buildings and recruit around 1,500 teachers,” he said.
The audience was awaiting Basu’s announcement that the government would release arrears under the career advancement scheme — for college and university teachers pursuing their PhDs — from June 2010. Basu skirted the topic.