A letter from union minister Kumari Selja over delays in allocating land for a National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in Panchkula has sent Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the district administration into overdrive for finalising the site.
In the letter, senior Congress leader Selja pointed out how a national institute for her constituency - she represents Ambala segment, which includes Panchkula - had been delayed for over a year, which had again brought forth the alleged bias with her area despite there being a Congress government in Haryana. As soon as the letter reached Hooda, officials held a meeting last Thursday. Deputy commissioner SS Phulia then went along with the principal secretary for urban local bodies, P Raghvendra Rao, and the principal secretary for technical education, RR Jowel, to meet Hooda, who is learnt to have reprimanded the IAS officers for not having brought any new site proposal and over the delay.
The project was approved in July 2012. As per the deal with the union ministry of textiles, the state has to provide land for NIFT and a grant of around Rs 100 crore.
The site problem originated as the earlier-chosen site in Manakpur Thakurdas in Pinjore was rejected, primarily because the approach road is just 11 feet wide. "As it is evident that there will be massive traffic of all type coming to this institute in future… this narrow connectivity may hamper the regulation of smooth traffic. [For] Another road which may be connected to the proposed NIFT institute … acquisition of land will be required which is a long process," said the minutes of a meeting which took place in August under Neelam P Kasni, the Ambala divisional commissioner.
"When they knew the site was not good, why did they choose it? Why do they waste time? I have written to both the Congress president and the CM," Selja told HT on Tuesday.
Now, a site close to a dumping ground is likely to be chosen. On Thursday, after meeting the CM, the officials again had a meeting and in the night went to examine the site in Sector 23, Panchkula, barely 300 metres from the dump. On Friday, the CM's office was informed about the new site, which is owned by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA).
But Selja was not convinced, "Let them give land closer to dumping ground for a national institute. Who will be the ultimate loser? It would be the state. What can I do?"
DC Phulia said, "Yes, there was a meeting with the CM. We are yet to finalise the site." HUDA estate officer Ashwani Sharma, however, added, "The site in Sector 23 may be finalised but it is not very close to the dumping ground. And in any case, the dumping ground is temporary." The matter of the dumping ground is being heard at the National Green Tribunal over foul smell and pollution.