J&K, Himachal Central Universities In Political Wrangle

23 August 2009
The Hindustan Times
Swaha Sahoo

New Delhi: People of Jammu and Kashmir may have to wait a while before a central university is established either in Jammu or Kashmir. The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has put the proposal of a new central university in J&K on hold indefinitely, revealed a senior ministry official. The move comes after protests and demands by the people of the state to have two central universities - one in Jammu and the other in Kashmir. Another proposal of having two campuses - also mooted by the state government has not found many takers in the ministry. “The proposal is stuck. It’s turning out to be a huge political controversy. The vice chancellor has also been asked not to do anything without prior permission of the ministry,” said the official on conditions of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media. The HRD Ministry had announced that the 12 new central universities with Rs 13,000 crore (Rs 130 billion) earmarked for them would begin functioning this year. But this ambitious plan has hit a roadblock. While a few universities have been forced to begin academic courses this year, albeit on a small scale, many are stuck. In Himachal, the central university has fallen victim to a political fight between the Congress and the BJP. “The state government had given land. But Congress leaders in the state objected. That project is also stuck because the Congress leaders have not been able to suggest an alternative,” the official said. All the central universities that began this year are running from temporary campuses. “There has to be some coordination between the states and the central government. You cannot start a university by just passing an Act,” said a vice chancellor on condition of anonymity.