Poor infrastructure irks new IITs, IIMs

IITs poor infrastructure

Infrastructure problems continue to hamper the higher education sector even as the government moves ahead on its ambitious plans of ‘one IIT, one IIM in every state’. Problems and delays with infrastructure — construction of campuses — continues to be an issue for the ‘new’ Central Universities, IITs and IIMs. Some of these institutions have been operational for nearly five years now. The delays will require higher-than-sanctioned outlays, in some cases more than double the initial cost.

Eight new IITs — that were set up in 2009 — continue to operate out of temporary premises. Construction of permanent campuses for IITs at Hyderabad, Mandi, Bhubaneswar, Patna and Gandhinagar are underway, while construction of campuses for the remaining three IITs at Ropar, Jodhpur and Indore are yet to commence.

Escalation of construction costs is a major issue for the new IITs. The detailed project report for the eight new IITs, prepared in 2008 and approved by the Cabinet in July 2008, put the total cost at Rs 6,080 crore. However, delays in allotment of land, revision of CPWD rates led to major escalation in costs — more than double the original budget — it is now estimated at Rs 15,565 crore.

The revised costs are yet to be approved by the Expenditure Finance Committee. Sources indicate that the new IITs proposed by this government will come at a cost of Rs 1,800 crore each over a five-year period.

Of the seven new IIMs that were set up between 2008-09 and 2011-12, the ministry found that infrastructure-related issues persist with three of the IIMs — at Ranchi, Rohtak and Udaipur. At that time, the Centre decided to expand the IIM network, it was decided that state governments would provide land free of cost and encumbrances to the new IIMs in the respective states. As of now, all barring the IIM at Ranchi have been allocated land.

The Jharkhand government had in July 2013 approved nearly 95 acre for the IIM, Ranchi, however, in order to expedite construction, the state government needs to acquire and transfer 4.22 acre of land. IIM Rohtak, which was sanctioned in 2010-11, was issued a change in land use certificate by the Haryana state government on June 9, 2014, and now needs to fast-track environmental clearance from the state authorities so that construction can begin.

While construction of the permanent campus of IIM Udaipur has hit a legal roadblock over the allotted land. This is something that the state government will have to address. There are residual infrastructure issues with new central universities as well. The central university in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, which has been in existence for five years now, continues to operate from a temporary campus.

However, in this case, it is not the central government that has been laggard — the Gujarat government had not made land available for the university. Two sites were offered by the states, which were reviewed by the central site selection committee in February and recommendations have been submitted. Other new central universities with outstanding issues include Central University of Himachal Pradesh, for which forest clearance needs to be expedited, rehabilitation and compensation issues for the Central University of Tamil Nadu.