Tuesday, April 22, 2008

NROs battle for Central varsity at Bhawanipatna

The Pioneer, April 22, 2008
Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar

In an effort to provide better education facilities, the Non-resident Oriyas (NROs) from various parts of the world demanded a Central University at Bhawanipatna, the headquarters of Kalahandi district, which is the epicentre of Orissa's most backward KBK (undivided districts of Kalahandi, Balangir and Koraput) zone.

After the Government of India announced to set up two Central Universities in the State, officials and planners are busy finding sites in the developed urban areas. But nobody is thinking about the rural and remote areas, lamented leading NRO Digambara Patra, who teaches at the American University of Beirut. He feels in the current scenario no importance is given to the rural and remote area in the matter of technical and higher education.

"Unfortunately, many in our political and administrative circles do not have a complete idea of a backward area like the KBK region in Orissa, which is reflected in their very poor judgment while establishing national institutes," echoed Madhusmita Panda, an NRO from Lebanon. She pointed out that the Central University in the North-Eastern States, which are inaccessible, hilly and extremist torn areas, have done quite fine. The NERIST in Arunachal Pradesh http://www.nerist.ac.in/ is doing quite well. When IIT Guwahati was established, many academicians were thinking nobody would go to teach there, but today it is one of the best technical institutes employing the best brains across the country as its faculties, she said.

Lingaraj Patra from Tokyo said that unless a chance is provided to the KBK area on the assumption that the Central University that they would not get the right kind of faculty, the people there would never get out of their backwardness. Two decades ago, Assam was inaccessible; today it is a destination for higher education because of its IIT and Central Universities.

Detailing out the facilities, Digambara Patra said that Kalahandi in fact has many advantages for location of a Central University. It is not only the epicentre of all the KBK districts having its borders with the other five KBK districts and additionally with other backward districts of Boudh and Kandhamal. It is well connected by road through NH-201 and links Visakhapatnam, Raipur, Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur, Berhampur and all the headquarters of KBK, Boudh and Phulbani districts. The Kesinga railway station is located within 26 km of Bhawanipatna, and the direct railway link to Bhawanipatna via Lanjigarh is almost complete.

Besides, Raipur airport is directly linked by road and located about 220 km from Bhawanipatna. Raipur has daily air connectivity to most of the major cities in India. Moreover, an aerodrome at Utkela is hardly 12 km away. To start with, the Government Autonomous College of Bhawanipatna is one of the best colleges in the KBK region imparting teaching up to PG classes, said Madhusmita Panda. The achievements of the college include the status of Potentiality for Excellence by the UGC. It is one of the three colleges in Orissa to have been honoured with this award in the first phase.

To start the university at present, the built-up area of the Government College campus at Bhawanipatna is 60 acres of land, and towards its north-east more than 100 acres of land is lying vacant, pointed out Patra.

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