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Board vacuum blocks IIEST expansion plan

Parthasarathi Chakrabarti

Howrah: The first full-time director of the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), Shibpur, has decided to write to the Union human resource and development ministry for immediate reconstitution of the dissolved board of governors, citing how its absence has left his hands tied in decision-making.

Parthasarathi Chakrabarti, who took charge of the institute in May, said the first few months of his term had been extremely restrictive without a board to back him up.

"Four months have passed since I assumed this responsibility. But the board has yet to be reconstituted. I will soon write to the ministry to expedite the process of reconstituting the board. In the absence of a board, the institute finds it difficult to implement policy decisions," he told Metro .

The first board of governors, chaired by the former Isro chairman Koppillil Radhakrishnan, was dissolved on December 9, 2017, after completing a three-year term. Before being upgraded to the status of an IIEST in 2014, the campus used to be known as Bengal Engineering and Science University.

A team from the Shibpur institute had visited Delhi recently to speak to officials of the human resource and development ministry about the need to reconstitute the board of governors. The status quo has continued, delaying projects such as building new hostels, classrooms and laboratories.

The shortage of hostel seats and classrooms has forced the institute to reduce its student intake in each of the past two academic years. The cut-off this year was 585, down more than 20 per cent from 735 in 2015-16.

According to a professor, IIEST Shibpur needs to urgently build hostels, classrooms, auditoriums and libraries but none of these proposals can be submitted for central funding without the board of governors endorsing them.

"These projects entail expenditure of more than Rs 300 crore and any proposal of that magnitude needs board approval first. Without a board of governors in place, we are in limbo. We hope a letter from the director to the ministry will fast-track the process," the professor said.

Like the National Institutes of Technology, IIEST Shibpur needs to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Union human resource development ministry to receive funding.

The teachers' association had written to the special secretary (technical education) in February, explaining the situation the institute has found itself in.

"The first board of governors was constituted in December 2014 with K. Radhakrishnan as the chairman. The tenure... expired on December 9, 2017. The absence of the highest decision-making body is adversely affecting the functioning of the institute," states the letter signed by Susanta Kumar Parui, the secretary of the teachers' association.

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