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Thursday, March 12, 2009

What happened to tribal university at Amarkantak

So political expediency in Madhya Pradesh may take away only central university away from state.

here are some relevant links




Poison Arrow
Politics scuppers a central tribal university ......
K.S. Shaini

A Credit Crunch

* The MP government's refusal to allot land has stalled plans for setting up a central tribal university
* It doesn't want HRD minister Arjun Singh to take credit for it before polls
* MP was chosen because tribals comprise 24 per cent of its population
* Other states are keen on the project
* The varsity might be moved out

A central tribal university in Madhya Pradesh, the 'first of its kind' in India, is now on the verge of being scrapped due to vacillating by the state government on the issue of allocating land for it. The government says it is finding it difficult to get 500 acres of land for the Indira Gandhi National Tribal University (IGNTU). Ever since he was appointed over seven months back, vice-chancellor C.D. Singh has been single-minded in his pursuit of acquiring land. He is yet to succeed. "A situation is being created whereby we will have to move out of the state," says Singh. The university has decided not to conduct admissions for the coming academic year.

Government sources say the impasse is fed by politics. The state's BJP government wants to prevent Union HRD minister Arjun Singh from being credited with gifting his home state the institution ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

IGNTU was launched in April 2007. For its location, the Union government chose Amarkantak, the picturesque holy town where the Narmada's origins lie. The varsity was allotted a budget of Rs 275 crore and it was to become operational in the academic year 2008-09.

The substantial tribal population of MP was the reason the Centre zeroed in on the state for setting up IGNTU. In July last year, 188 students were admitted, 70 of them tribals. Graduate courses in arts, commerce and business administration were started. When requested, the state government refused to allow classes to be held in the training centre of the state tribal welfare department at Amarkantak. No reason was given.

Hung: The model plan for the varsity

The university then turned to the public for help. Kalyandas Ashram—a religious institution—allowed it to use its premises to conduct classes and the Sahu Samaj gave its dharamshala free of cost for use as hostel. The wrath of the state government visited it promptly—the administration snapped water and power supply to the dharamshala.

The university needs around 500 acres of land. The central gazette notification for the establishment of IGNTU said it would come up at Amarkantak. The state refuses to yield even a single square feet of land. Among the reasons being cited are that the point of origin of Narmada is too close; that its catchment area would be blocked; and that sadhus oppose the project since it would "pollute the holy atmosphere" of the town.

After repeated representations, the government identified 197 acres of land, not in Amarkantak but at Lalpur, 20 km away. Here, too, only 16 acres of land was formally allotted. For the remainder, the government said the selected area fell under a biosphere reserve and was the cradle of a wide variety of medicinal plants, which needed to be protected.

The government's attitude has irked Amarkantak's residents. "What is being shown as forest was a forest 500 years back. For political reasons, the Union HRD ministry is being misled," says a representation to the district collector and signed by over 300 prominent citizens. The 'Shri Narmadanchal Sadhu Samaj' approved the project in a resolution last December."This institution will give the tribals an opportunity to study at a place which is accessible to them," it said.

Ironically, while terms like "ecological balance" and "biodiversity" are being bandied about by state government officials to block land allotment, Amarkantak and its surrounding areas were studded with mines till a few years back, from which bauxite was extracted.

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