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Landless colleges


The news from New Tehri that the Government Post Graduate College does not have any land or building that it can call its own has not come as a surprise to most residents of Uttarakhand, who are well accustomed to the manner in which affairs regarding higher education are being conducted in the state. In fact, a vast majority of them are sufferers at the hands of the authorities who claim to be doing much for the betterment of higher education, but actually the results are nowhere visible on the ground. Much has been written and said on the quantitative and qualitative facets of higher education, but the important issue of college campus has rarely been discussed. Even though there are a large number of such temples of higher education that are being operated in poorly maintained campuses or even tin–sheds, to say the least, factual information on such colleges is not even available in the public domain. This is primarily because while the State Government seems to care less for providing land and buildings to colleges so that they could have a campus of their own, the college authorities appear to have helplessly resigned themselves to their fate.
The UGC norms stipulate that to be able to function, all colleges providing education and training to under–graduates must have land or building, adequate staff for the college, library for students, economically viable number of students, laboratory for science stream students, sports ground for students, and teachers as per set standards. However, the field of higher education in the state is completely off the rails as there are more than 24 government colleges that do not have land or building of their own. Out of these, three government colleges are functioning in tin sheds and the affairs of the remaining ones are being conducted from dak bungalows and old buildings of government departments. Not just this, some of these colleges are being operated in just two-room tenements. The education and training work in these colleges is also affected severely for want of resources.
At the time of the creation of Uttarakhand, the number of government colleges in the State was only 34. The leadership in power, in a bid to emotively go down well with the masses, opened the floodgates of processes to set up new colleges. As a result, the numbers of government colleges in the state has now climbed to more than seventy. Government colleges were opened at such places in remote hilly areas that are completely bereft of resources. To fully comply with political leaders’ announcements, the government and the Higher Education Department went on a government college-opening spree at places that they could somehow find, merely to complete the formalities.
In the opening of these colleges, the University Grants Commission (UGC) norms have also been given short shrift. Teachers, too, do not wish to be posted in most of these government colleges opened post-2001, in view of the complete lack of resources and facilities over there.
The government should immediately address the need for building construction of government colleges being operated in buildings of other departments and at other places. It can at least start with the work of searching land for these colleges.