Tech-cradle cheer for state

IIIT project stuck for years over land to be set up on Bhagalpur Engineering College campus

By Roshan Kumar
  • Published 2.08.17

The first academic session of the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) will start in the first week of September in what will bring smiles on the faces of around 110 engineering aspirants.

The Bhagalpur Engineering College (BCE) campus will house the institute, the 20th of its kind in the country and set up under the public-private partnership (PPP) mode. Faculty have been recruited and the director has been completed for the institute. Counselling carried out by the Joint Seat Allocation Authority (JoSAA) has helped finalise names of around 110 students.

Students welcomed the decision to set up the IIIT in Bihar.

"The government's decision to set up IIIT in Bihar is good as one more national-level educational institution will give us more options though the admission in the institute will be carried out on the basis of national-level competition," said Vivek Vikas, a Class XII student preparing for IIT and other engineering entrance examinations.

The new science and technology (S&T) department minister, Jai Kumar Singh, who joined office at Visheshwariya Bhavan on Tuesday, said: "As there is the same government (NDA) both at the Centre and the state, we hope all pending work will gain pace. Some projects such as setting up IIIT campus in Bihar, pending for years, will gain momentum now."

Around four months ago, the Centre had agreed on setting up the IIIT campus in Bhagalpur.

After the state government received consent for setting up of the IIIT, the process for faculty recruitment was carried out with appointment of Pinak Mohanty as director of the institute.

"Last year in December, the Centre agreed in-principle to set up the institute on 50 acres of the BCE campus," a department official said on condition of anonymity. "Once the Centre gave its consent, the next task was recruitment of faculty members, director and other staff, all of which was completed around four months ago."

There will be 60 students each in the computer science and electronics & communication engineering, the two branches at IIIT.

Minister Jai Kumar Singh said: "Though the project was conceptualised seven years ago, it was stuck because the state government and the Centre were not agreeing on some technical terms. But now, there is the same government both at the Centre and the state. So we hope all such issues will be sorted out soon. There will be no shortage of funds for the project."

The IIIT campus will come up on 50 acres of the 156-acre BCE campus.

Sources in the science and technology department said the project was stuck since 2010, when the UPA government led by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced in 2010 that IIITs would be set up in different states.

All 19 IIITs received land either from the respective state governments or started functioning from temporary campuses, with only the IIIT in Bihar struck midway - thanks to the perennial Bihar problem of unavailability of land. Bihar has an agrarian economy in which people's dependence on land is much higher than many other states. Finding land for industries and educational institutions has been a challenging task.

According to sources in the science and technology department, the state had earlier thrown up its hands on providing land for the project.

"Like other educational institutions, finding land for IIIT was also a challenging task. As per ministry of human resource development directive, the state concerned had to give their consent to provide 100 acres to open an IIIT. In 2010, when the project was announced for Bihar, the Nitish government had informed the Centre that it had identified around 100 acres under Bahadur mouza (revenue village) in Chandi block of Nalanda district, around 60km from Patna, for the proposed IIIT in Bihar. But the state failed in getting possession of land owing to farmers' protest and the project was stuck," said a source.

The institute will come up at an estimated cost of Rs 128 crore; the Centre's share will be 50 per cent, the state will bear 35 per cent and Beltron, the industry partner for the project, will bear the rest 15 per cent.