After their one month long strike for a safe permanent campus went unanswered, around 900 students of National Institute of Technology (NIT) Uttarakhand left for home on Tuesday. The students have been on strike after one of their collegemates met with an accident on NH-58, the third to happen this year.
Students have threatened that they would continue to boycott the lectures till the “unsafe”, “ill-equipped” campus is shifted from its present location along NH-58 in Srinagar Garhwal town.
NIT-Uttarakhand was among the 10 new NITs sanctioned in 2009 under the Eleventh Five Year Plan. Even after it started functioning in 2010, it continues to operate out of a 3.4 acre temporary plot next to the busy national highway. Many of the buildings are pre-fabricated structures, standing atop buildings that were damaged during the flash floods of 2013.
The strike began after Neelam Meena, a third year B.Tech (Electrical and Electronics) student was hit by a vehicle, leaving her with multiple injuries in her brain, chest and spinal cord. Meena is admitted at AIIMS Rishikesh and her lower body is still immobile.
The lack of space and facilities is costing NIT-Uttarakhand dear. According to an Indian Express report, no patents have been registered at the NITUK in 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17 academic years. Besides, it did not sponsor any research projects in 2015-16 and 2016-17. NITUK Director Shyam Lal Soni says that this year, the B.Tech seats were reduced from 300 to 150 “due to lack of space and facilities for students”.
In the meanwhile, the land for the permanent campus is yet to be procured. The state government had first allotted 310 acres at Sumari village, about 15 km from the present premises, in December 2013. However, owing to high cost of construction quoted, there was no progress was made. There were fresh requests from MHRD for land in 2016 and 2017, but the state government had not responded.
R Subrahmanyam, HRD Secretary, said, “It is the Uttarakhand government which has to allot the land for the construction, and it has assured us that the process is on.”
Uttarakhand Higher Education Minister Dhan Singh assured that the land will be ready soon: “The MHRD told us that the cost of construction at Sumari is very high, so we have now decided to allot additional 112 acres land for the institute in Jaletha village. Now the MHRD can get the institute built in two parts on suitable land at the two sites.”States