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Infotech cradle hits recce hurdle

Ranchi, Aug. 12: The proposed Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in Ranchi, which recently managed to solve a three-year-old land jinx, has hit a fresh bump with a central team cancelling plans to inspect the site and stonewalling all efforts of the state IT department to move ahead with the long cherished dream project.

Until February, the IIIT project had been hanging in balance for want of 13 acres in Sanga mouza of Kanke block. A tripartite agreement between the Centre, the state and two private partners — Tata Consultancy Services and Tata Motors — could not be signed for the same reason.

Currently, the IT department claims to have solved the land puzzle, but says that two back-to-back cancellations of visits by a high-profile technical team have left them baffled.

Headed by a Union HRD additional secretary and comprising the director of IIIT-Jabalpur and a superintending engineer of central public works department, the team was scheduled to reach Ranchi on Wednesday.

“But, the visit has been cancelled for reasons best known to central officials. I found the intimation in my mailbox after I reached office this (Tuesday) morning. No reason has been cited in the mail. This is the second cancellation within months,” an IT official said.

He added that department was concerned over the latest deferment because the delay would hit progress of the project further with Assembly polls scheduled this year. “We had wanted to get all paperwork and groundwork done before the polls so that we could begin temporary classes and construction of a permanent campus from the next academic session. Let’s see how things pan out now,” the department insider added.

Deputy director (IT) S.V. Sahu confirmed that the central team had cancelled its visit for the second time and that he was now waiting to meet state IT secretary N.N. Sinha to discuss the way ahead.

“The earlier visit was cancelled in May-June owing to the Lok Sabha elections and formation of a new government. I don’t know why this trip has been cancelled. After discussing with the secretary, I will pursue the matter once again by writing to the HRD ministry,” he said.

He pointed out that an inspection of the site by the central team was the key to unlock the project. “Without site clearance from a technical team, no formalities can be completed. We have land in our possession, but we need the stamp of approval from the Union ministry’s site approval committee,” he added.

The Centre had sanctioned an IIIT in Jharkhand way back in 2011. But, like most other projects in the state, this too was stuck in limbo for a couple of years, courtesy the Nagri land stalemate and red tape.

In mid-2013, the Ranchi administration, finally, zeroed in on a 37-acre plot in Kanke block after a prolonged search. In November, the Centre gave its nod to the detailed project report worth Rs 128 crore. However, the steering committee under the HRD ministry imposed a rider, asking the state to first have at least 50 acres in its possession before it could commence classes even on a temporary campus.

Now, while land is ready, pending site inspection is holding up the ambitious academic project.

Speaking to The Telegraph from Delhi, Union HRD under secretary Prisca Mathew said: “Parliament is in session and the officials in question may be required here. So, the visit has been cancelled. All I can say is a team will visit Jharkhand to finalise the site for IIIT.”


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