BHUBANESWAR/JATNI: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bhubaneswar, has finally touched ground. A little over 25 km from the Capital, a foundation stone for the much-hyped and long-awaited project was laid in a star-studded function here on Thursday.
With an indisposed Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh unable to make it, it was Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who did the honours on his behalf at Argul where the State Government has allocated 935 acres for the institute.
The Orissa Government has been lobbying for the project since 2003. In the 11th Plan when the Centre decided to set up eight new IITs, Orissa got its first. In fact, IIT, Bhubaneswar, got underway in July last year with 120 students.
IIT, Kharagpur, which is mentoring the new institute is where these students are currently pursuing their studies.
“Necessary facilities are being created at IIT, Kharagpur Extension Campus in Bhubaneswar so that students of IIT, Bhubaneswar, can have their academics there beginning July,” Arjun Singh said in a statement. In fact, its own campus at Argul is expected to be operational in two years. The estimated outlay for a new project like this one is about Rs 1,000 crore.
During the current plan, Singh said, Orissa would have a Central varsity, a national university aiming for world-class standards and several polytechnics in the districts which do not have such institutes. This will give a boost to technical education.
The HRD Minister said an assessment was made about various states about the availability of degree and diploma-level courses per lakh of population in the field of technical education and Orissa ranked below the national average.
“This obviously means that the regional imbalance in respect of technical education needs to be corrected and setting up an IIT near Bhubaneswar is a right as well as timely step,” he added.
The Centre is incentivising states to start new varsities besides giving a one time grant on a matching basis to develop infrastructure of technical education which will increase access, Singh announced. Similarly, a national initiative is being launched for skill development under which 1,000 polytechnics would be established and infrastructure would be upgraded. There is a plan to make provision for setting up 500 women’s hostels in the 1,000 polytechnics.
On the occasion, Naveen Patnaik said the demand for an IIT was part of knowledge revolution that the State Government wanted to usher in as a sequel to the huge industrial investments.
In the last four years, a whopping Rs 50,000 crore investment has been grounded while the promise is to the tune of Rs 6 lakh crore. ‘‘Unless we invest adequately in the human resource development, fruits of the investment cannot be fully harvested,’’ he added.
The State Government will lay a pipeline from Naraj for water supply and a dedicated grid sub-station.
Pradesh Congress Committee and former union minister president KP Singhdeo, Chairman, Board of Governors of IIT, Kharagpur and Bhubaneswar and Tata Steel MD B Muthuraman, Industries Minister Biswa Bhusan Harichandan, MP Prasanna Patsani and Additional Secretary, HRD Ministry, Ashok Thakur and Director, IIT, Kharagpur Dr Damodar Acharya spoke.