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Ravi Shankar varsity in dock

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By SUBHASHISH MOHANTY
  • Published 19.12.10
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Bhubaneswar, Dec.18: After the political furore over the Vedanta University, another university, named after the Art of Living guru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, seems to have run into trouble.

The higher education department of the state government today sought government’s permission to stop the Sri Sri University’s move to enrol students barely two days after the guru met chief minister, Naveen Patnaik at the state secretariat. The state government has been equally keen on the project coming up at Naraj.

However, the higher education department has objected to the university’s move to enrol students as it is yet to develop infrastructure for commencing academic activities.

The university, which is yet to develop the required infrastructure on the 1859.970 acres of land at Naraj in Cuttack district, had recently issued an advertisement in a newspaper inviting application from students for the MBA course beginning July 2011. Higher education officials said the move violated the Univesity Act under which it was established.

The advertisement which appeared last week asked the desirous students to send in their applications by February 28, for the course commencing from July 11. The cost of the application form is Rs 1,000.

“We have issued a show cause notice to the university. It should make its stand on the issue clear. Now they would be required to put in an advertisement stating that the enrolment move has been withdrawn,” said secretary of higher education Madhu Sudan Padhi.

The state government had signed an MoU with the Art of Living Foundation headed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on December 12, 2006, for the establishment of a university at Naraj in Cuttack district, about 35 km from here.

Later, the government provided 1859.970 acres of land at a concessional rate. Though the actual cost of the land was around Rs 60 crore, it was given to the Art of Living Foundation at Rs 6 crore only. The state cabinet also waived Rs 80 lakh on account of rent and cess.

According to the Act the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Vidya Mandir Trust was to establish an endowment fund of Rs 5 crore for setting up the self-financed Sri Sri University. Officials said as per the Act, the varsity cannot begin the process of admission unless a high-power panel constituted by the government certifies the availability of land and necessary infrastructure including building, equipment and teaching staff are in place and the UGC Regulations, 2003, have been complied with.

“In case of Sri Sri University, the high-power committee of the government is yet to visit the place and certify that the infrastructure is ready in accordance with the UGC norms. Hence the move to commence the admission process is illegal,” said an official of the higher education department.

According to the its original plan, the University will enrol nearly 15,000 students and offer courses in management, law, administration, journalism, engineering, ayurvedic, vedic science and biotechnology.