The foundation-laying ceremony for the Indian Institute of Technology (Patna) became a sparring scene on Tuesday between Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and union human resources development minister Kapil Sibal on the location and land allotment for two other institutions.
Kumar strongly pitched for shifting the Central University of Bihar from its makeshift location in Patna to Motihari, about 200 km to the northwest of the state capital, saying: “Champaran has been the karma bhumi of Mahatma Gandhi and therefore needs to be treasured and developed as a hub of various activities including education.”
However, Sibal was not impressed. Even as he agreed with Kumar about Champaran’s importance, he said the need of the hour was to address the “struggle for education” and in this respect social infrastructure and the viability of location should get precedence as far setting up a university was concerned.
“Wherever central universities were opened in interior areas; they have struggled as neither faculty members nor students go there,” said Sibal, adding, “The Centre will bear all the cost as part of its duty towards the people. Please allow us the right to have some role in decision-making. Don’t say it will be either Motihari or nowhere. It will be great injustice to Bihar. Give us at least three-four other options.”
And, when Kumar said it was not possible to give more than 100 acres for the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Sibal replied by saying all other states had given 300 acres for their NITs. “We plan institutions keeping in mind the requirement for 20-30 years. NIT-Patna has been unable to expand and increase intake because it has no capacity. This is injustice to the students of Bihar,” he added.