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NIT Sringar: Politics takes precedence!

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By Arun Pratap Singh

DEHRADUN, 12 Jan: Ever since its formation as a separate state, politics has dominated many issues of serious concern in a very negative manner in Uttarakhand. The latest such case hitting the headlines is the case related to the NIT campus! Afraid of the possible political consequences of temporary shifting of NIT from Srinagar (Pauri), Trivendra Singh Rawat Government pursued the case with Union HRD Minister PrakashJavadekar and finally managed to elicit assurance from him that the NIT campus would not be shifted out from Srinagar Campus. However, according to experts, this decision is not going to be very helpful to the students who were agitating for shifting out the campus of NIT because of some very obvious reasons.
It may be recalled that it was only after a prolonged stike and movement by the students of NIT that the campus had to be ‘temporarily’ shifted to Rishikesh. Even then the Union Government had in November last, announced shifting of this NIT to Jaipur in Rajasthan! It had even announced that the classes would begin in Jaipur in December! Why? Because, even when the NIT campus had been shifted to Rishikesh for want of adequate space and facilities at Srinagar campus, the state government had all the time being claiming that the campus would be soon shifted back to Srinagar after construction of a permanent campus infrastructure there! This assurance was sounding like a nightmare to the students whose education was getting adversely affected because of lack of facilities as well as faculty at the Srinagar campus from where the NIT was operating! Due to this, more than 850 students of NIT were forced to leave the NIT and return home! Only after this mega development, the state government woke up to the dimension of the problem and was forced to shift the NIT campus to Rishikesh, albeit ‘temporarily’! However, no sooner than the government shifted the campus to Rishikesh, politics came to the fore and Congress strongly opposed the move clearly, ignoring the interest and future of the students concerned! As a result, the agitation of the students continued and they even called on Union HRD Minister and following this, the HRD Ministry directed the officiating Director Prof RB Patel to shift the classes to Jaipur. This led to agitation by the Congress and after several rounds of persuasion by the state BJP leaders, the Centre finally agreed to let the NIT remain in Srinagar and in the state! However, there are multiple challenges.
The obsession of the state politicians of all hues to locate even such institutions of prestige in the hills even when there may not be adequate infrastructure and space available has negatively affected the performance and the standards of the academics. It may be recalled that when NIT had been granted to Uttarakhand in the year 2008, the then CM RP Nishank insisted that it be located at Srinagar, though no infrastructure was available there for immediate setup of NIT. Consequently, it began operating from the ITI campus in the year 2008! Ironically, even after ten years, there was no exercise towards creating a permanent campus till the students started agitating and even leaving the NIT! Now that the government has announced setting up of a permanent campus in Srinagar in 300 acres of land presently belonging to the Silk Department, it remains to be seen how long it will actually take for the campus to come up and start operating! Experts admit that it will be several years before the new campus is built and starts operation there!What will happen till then, remains in suspense! One wonders, why this obsession is there to locate every institute in Srinagar! Probably, the answer is obvious, majority of influential leaders in Uttarakhand belong to the Pauri district and have direct relation to Srinagar!
Incidentally, the Government Medical College also in Srinagar is yet another example of this obsession! In this case, it was the obsession of the then CM, BC Khanduri under whose rule, the Medical College in Srinagar opened up! This is totally another matter that the government has abjectly failed to run the college and almost every year, it becomes a challenge for the college management to avoid de-recognition by the MCI due to lack of infrastructure as well faculty! After realising that it is beyond its capabilities and means to run the college effectively, the state government has now been pursuing the Centre and in particular the Ministry of Defense to take over the management of the college! The conditions in the college are so pathetic that not only the future of the medical college is at stake, but even the local people from Srinagar and nearby districts don’t trust the college for treatment of any serious treatment! This correspondent remembers a particular case of a senior bureaucrat who had hypertension and had developed breathing problem while in Srinagar and was admitted in the College Hospital some years ago! There was no cardiologist available there to treat him and he had to shift to a private hospital in Dehradun!