THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: At a time when the University of Kerala plans to upgrade the Kariavattom campus as a centre of excellence, it is an irony that the varsity is on a leasing spree by handing over the available land to other projects which do not have an educational purpose.
Campus growth is on reverse gear
In 1962, the campus had a total area of 512 acres. Of late, the university has given 50 acres to the Lakshmibai National College of Physical Education as well as Technopark. In the last decade, the university has donated 25 acres for the Kariavattom government college, 37 acres has been given on lease to build the Greenfield International Stadium and 1.5 acres has been donated to set up the Kerala Highway Research Institute. At present, the campus is spread over 359 acres.
The latest government decision is to hand over 2.52 acres to the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy to make a permanent venue for the International Film Festival of Kerala. This move comes at a time when internationally-acclaimed universities like Stanford and Harvard are acquiring more land to expand. According to S Prema, President, Kerala University Teachers' Organisation (KUTO), they will take up the issue and will convince the state government to back out from this deal with the Academy.
"It is a major concern that the campus area is shrinking day by day," she said. "So, we will convey our apprehension to the government immediately."
Experts said that universities should have large areas as there is a scope of development in the future by starting research and development wings. Now, KUTO will launch agitations in the coming days against the donation and leasing of the university land bank.
Recently, there was an attempt to give 75 acres to the Kerala Technological University. Sources said it was the student community who led the resistance along with teachers.
Varsity Syndicate to take decision soon: Minister
Meanwhile, Cultural Minister AK Balan told Express that the government has asked land from the University and it is under the consideration of the syndicate. "The university has agreed to hand over the land. But they need to take a final decision in the syndicate. Then, we will begin steps to acquire the land," he said. M Lenin Lal, University syndicate member said that they will consider the issue and a final decision would be taken after the meeting.
Land leased over the years
Total area of campus in 1962 - 512 acres
50 acres - LNCPE
50 acres- Technopark
25 acres - Kariyavattom Govt college
37 acres- Greenfield stadium
1.5 acres- KHRI
359 acres- Present campus area