Tribal areas get own university
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The tribal-dominated districts of Bankura and Purulia in Bengal are set to get a separate university of their own from this academic session in the form of Sidho Kano Birsa University.
The educational institutions in this part of the state were earlier affiliated to Burdwan University and Vidyasagar University. The demand for a separate university has been a long-standing one in the area which is relatively underdeveloped compared to other districts and is hit by Maoist violence. "We plan to start the academic activities from this session. There are about 30 colleges in Purulia and Bankura, which are affiliated to the Burdwan University. As the new university starts this academic year, they will all be affiliated to Sidhu Kanu Birsa University," said Subimal Sen, the Vice- chairman of Higher Education Council.
The state government has allocated about Rs 20 crore as non-recurring grant (for land and infrastructure) and Rs 17 crore as recurring grant for salaries and other requirements of the university for this academic year. The Sidho Kano Birsa University Bill was passed in the state Assembly last month. "In the past few years, each region in the state got a separate university of its own, including Malda, North 24-Parganas and Murshidabad," said Sen.
The University Grants Commission is also of the view that the number of colleges affiliated to any university should be brought under 100 and hence the case for new universities, he added.
The new university, apart from having general degree colleges, will also offer courses on forestry, cottage industries and others can boost the skills of locals and bring economic empowerment in the region.
The idea of a new university in the region has also found support from the Opposition. Nepal Mahato, a senior Congress leader, welcomed the decision but insisted it should be set up in Purulia only. "We have only 12 general degree colleges and one polytechnic in Purulia district. The new university will increase the access to higher education in the region and also further economic activity in the district," said Mahato. "We want the university to concentrate on agricultural research and technologies and industries that are specific to the region," he said.