Members of Tiger Force on a daylong fast at Randhir Verma Chowk in Dhanbad on Thursday. Picture by Gautam Dey
A decade-old demand for a separate university for coal belt colleges has picked up steam, now that the new government has four people’s representatives, including two ministers, from Dhanbad.
The two ministers, Chandrashekhar Dubey and Mannan Mallik, have reaffirmed their resolve to establish the proposed Koylaanchal University. Besides, the Hemant Soren government, prodded by ally Congress, is also backing the proposal keeping in mind the next Lok Sabha elections.
Dubey, alias Dadai, the state rural development minister, said: “I had a discussion regarding the proposed university in Dhanbad with chief minister Hemant Soren today (Thursday). One can expect some positive development within a week as the government is serious about the issue.”
He, however, refused to divulge further details, saying that it would be premature to say anything unless a formal announcement was made.
Mallik, the state animal husbandry minister and Dhanbad MLA, on the other hand, said: “The establishment of a university primarily lies in the hands of the Central government as University Grants Commission provides the funds. But the state is leaving no stone unturned to push the case at the Centre. We are going to plan our next move in the upcoming meeting of the Cabinet.”
Mallik had raised the issue of a separate university with governor Syed Ahmed when the state was under President’s rule on June 19.
Apart from the ministers, local organisations and academicians are also mobilising support for the cause. Tiger Force, a youth association, organised a daylong fast at Randhir Verma Chowk on Thursday.
Naresh Kumar Ambastha, head of the department of philosophy at Sidho Kanho Murmu University in Dumka, has been spearheading a campaign under the banner of Koylanchal University Sangharsh Samiti ever since he was at PK Roy Memorial College in Dhanbad a decade ago.
Apparently, he has also received support from Dubey, Mallik, Nirsa MLA Arup Chatterjee and Tundi MLA Mathura Mahto.
“A meeting of all intellectuals, party leaders and student leaders is slated on August 31 during which our next course of action would be decided,” said Ambastha, adding that a delegation would also meet the chief ministers on Teachers’ Day.
Ambastha justified the demand for the university. “Dhanbad has the required infrastructure, including one of the best rail and road connectivity, in the state. Besides, a number of engineering, medical and technical institutions like Indian School of Mines (ISM), BIT-Sindri, Patliputra Medical College and Hospital, Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research are present,” he said.
Besides, a number PSUs — like BCCL, ECL, DVC, MPL, SAIL — also have a huge presence in Dhanbad, he added.
The campaign for establishing a separate university in Dhanbad began in 1998 after which Vinoba Bhave University in Hazaribagh established a regional centre at PK Roy Memorial College.
But coal town colleges are not satisfied with its affiliation, they want a university of their own.