iconimg Saturday, March 28, 2015

Navneet Sharma, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, September 09, 2013
After having failed to find a suitable private partner, the Punjab government is trying to rope in public sector giant Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) for setting up an Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in the state. The state government, which has been scouting for private collaborators for the past three years, has requested the ONGC to join the proposed project as its partner. The technical education department wrote to the cash-rich energy major on a cue from the union ministry of human resource development (MHRD).

The corporation, which had shown interest in the Tripura IIIT earlier, has responded by seeking additional information from the Punjab government on the institute proposed to be set up over 100 acres of land in the state.

The MHRD had suggested ONGC as the probable partner after Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief and Gurdaspur MP Partap Singh Bajwa, who is keen on having the IIIT in his parliamentary constituency, took up the matter with HRD minister Dr MM Pallam Raju, according to sources in the technical education department. The other probable sites are Rajpura, Jalandhar and Kapurthala.

The Punjab IIIT is among the 20 world-class information technology institutes planned by the Centre across the country on the public-private partnership (PPP) basis in 2009 to produce best-in-class human resource and address challenges faced by the industry. The Centre has sanctioned a budget of Rs. 128 crore for the institute, to be shared by the MHRD, state government and the private or public sector partner in ratio of 50:35:15.

However, when some states, including Punjab and Haryana, faced difficulty in finding suitable industry partners, the ministry amended the project norms a few months ago to allow them to induct public sector undertakings. "The department did try to find an industry partner. As per the project guidelines, the private partner was required to invest, but got only representation on the board and limited say in running the institute," principal secretary, technical education, AR Talwar told HT, confirming talks with ONGC.

The technical education department had invited expression of interest in 2010, but only one local group, with limited exposure to IT, had shown interest and the process was shelved. In addition to ONGC, the department is also looking at the possibility of enrolling a state-owned public sector undertaking as its partner.

However, the choice is limited, with very few corporations having the financial wiggle room to invest funds in such a project.

In neighbouring Haryana, the state government has recently brought in two of its corporations as partners. Of the 20 states, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Assam have started their IIITs from the current academic session.

HT FAST FACTS

PROJECT: Indian Institute of Information Technology, one of the 20 institutes planned by the Centre to produce best-in-class human resource

LAND REQUIREMENT: 100 acres

FUNDS: Rs. 128 crore to be shared by the union ministry of human resource development (50%), state government (35%) and private or public sector partner (15%)

PROJECT STATUS: Having failed to find a private partner in the past three years, Punjab govt trying for ONGC