The central team inspects the proposed IIIT site in Kanke block, 20km from Ranchi, on Wednesday. (Hardeep Singh)
Achche din may finally be here for academic Jharkhand.
The much-awaited — and equally delayed — Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in Ranchi saw a ray of hope on the eve of the Prime Minister’s visit to the state capital when a central team came calling on Wednesday to gauge the feasibility of a 50-acre site in Sanga mouza of Kanke block, 20km off city.
Although the site approval team — comprising director of higher education, HRD ministry, Alok Mishra and dean of academics at Indian Institute of Information Technology, Design and Manufacturing, Jabalpur, Vijay Kumar Gupta — remained tight-lipped on their decision, the state IT department believes that the timing of the visit indicates the Centre’s renewed interest in expediting the project.
Incidentally, Wednesday’s maiden visit follows twin cancellations of scheduled visits by the Union ministry’s special site evaluation committee in the past couple of months, the last being on August 13.
State principal secretary (IT) N.N. Sinha who accompanied the team refused to divulge whether the Sanga mouza site for the IIIT campus had received the green light. “It is too early to say anything,” he said curtly, unwilling to entertain queries at the site apparently on the request of central officials.
Later, however, Sinha told The Telegraph over phone that the visiting team had offered two suggestions. “They have asked us to acquire an additional 10-15 acres nearby since some patches available with us are undulated. Also, we have been asked to build a concrete approach road. Apart from these two issues, the team is more or less satisfied with the site,” he said.
Have they been given any deadline to end the glitches? “Not exactly, but sooner the better. The project is on and we need to act fast,” he added.
A source further revealed that the central team scrutinised the 50-acre plot map in detail. “They tried to assess the site’s feasibility through various parameters such as approach roads, security, connectivity from airport and railway station among other things. Security won’t be an issue because we have already set up a camp of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) near the site,” the source said.
He added that the proposed permanent campus of IIM-Ranchi would be coming up in close proximity and the site was academically apt being far away from the hustle-bustle of city life. “All these are our plus points. Things would be clear once the team submits its feasibility report to the HRD ministry.”
The IIIT project in Jharkhand has been hanging balance since 2011 after the Nagri stalemate and subsequent delay in finding suitable land.
Last year, the Ranchi district administration managed to get 37 acres in this area, which was short by 13 acres until February this year. As a result, neither temporary classes could commence nor funds could be sought as the Centre while approving the detailed project report last November, had placed the 50-acre rider.
Now that the land hurdle has been almost overcome and the site inspection done, it is time for the state IT department to keep its fingers crossed for a final nod.