The proposed regional campus of the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University (IGNTU), Amarkantak (MP), in Kalahandi has remained a non-starter. This despite the fact that lack of access to higher education is depriving tribals of getting gainful employment.
As the State Government had chosen Koraput for the Central University, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) favoured Kalahandi for setting up the IGNTU off-campus, the proposal of which was placed before the Centre by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik himself.
In 2010, the then Additional District Magistrate (ADM) had identified the required 300 acres of land in Benda Jhola and Kumudabahal village in Thuamul-Rampur panchayat samiti of the district and informed the same to the Department of Higher Education, Odisha. However, after receiving the letter from the ADM, the Higher Education Department allegedly did not forward the same to the MHRD and the authorities concerned at the IGNTU, Amarkantak, nor take any necessary follow-up action.
Under public criticism over the delay of two years in initiating work on the project, the State Government has yet again sought information from the Kalahandi administration on whether the identified 300 acres is free of cost, presence of an approach road connecting either the State or National Highway, electrical connectivity and drinking water facilities in the identified land. In a directive to the Kalahandi Collector last week, the Director of ST & SC Development Department, S K Popli, had sought the details at the earliest.
Educationists said having a campus of IGNTU in the educationally backward district (EBD) of Kalahandi would give a fillip to tribal education and open up employment avenues. “It is because the institute offers courses on business administration, tourism management, computer science and information technology. Besides, it could play a role in mainstreaming the tribals in society. By not expediting the IGNTU project, the State is not espousing the cause of tribals,” said an expert.
IGNTU was set up under an Act in 2007 with jurisdiction over the entire country.