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Three's a crowd! Goa's NIT, IIT and a state engineering college share the same campus

Nihar Gokhale | Updated on: 11 February 2017, 7:52 IST
Space crunch
  • The GEC campus was already hosting NIT, now IIT too is going to share the campus
  • The land meant for IIT Goa has not been finalised yet
  • And besides classes, the institutes also have to share hostel facilities
More in the story
  • What is the Goa government doing about it?
  • The problems the institutes are facing

Have you ever seen an IIT, NIT and a state engineering college, all operating from the same campus? You should visit Goa.

The Goa Engineering College (GEC) in Farmagudi, East Goa now has the impossible task of additionally housing the temporary campuses of National Institute of Technology (NIT) and Indian Institute of Technology, Goa (IIT).

The NIT has been housed there since 2010. IIT's temporary campus was inaugurated on 30 July by HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, in the presence of Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and other senior leaders. Classes commenced on 2 August.

As Goa government documents reveal, in doing this the central and state governments buried the advice of their own senior official to not open an IIT there.

Space crunch

A note issued on 7 January, 2016 by Dipak CS Gaitonde, an additional director in Goa's Directorate of Technical Education, and reviewed by Catch, called it a "herculean" task to manage three institutions on the same campus, requesting that the IIT not be opened without finalising its permanent campus.

The note pointed out how the NIT was to be temporarily accommodated on the GEC campus for only two years, but six years later it was still there because land for its permanent campus couldn't be finalised.

"In this circumstances, it needs to be ascertained whether an institution with the stature of IIT could be functional within GEC campus, with limited resources that could be made available," including hostels and other common facilities, the note states.

It adds that the IIT can at most be accommodated for the first two years, but after that "it would be difficult for GEC to part with more space."

"In view of the above, it is suggested that IIT Goa be made operational only upon identification and handing over of the land to MHRD for setting up of the permanent campus for the said institution."

The part above was underlined in the file for emphasis, by hand by Vivek Kamat, Director of Technical Education, with a handwritten comment: "May kindly like to take a view in the matter (as it) is crucial activity and may not be accomplished easily." This was signed on 7 January.

Going ahead anyway

The new IIT has commenced classes in contrast to this advice. An IIT Mumbai official told Catch that the land has not been handed over to it yet.

"The state government is supposed to acquire the land and hand it over. It is under process. The state government will know the details," the official in the institute's IIT Goa Cell said.

As Catch reported on 2 August, the land is in jeopardy as locals from the Loliem village, where it is situated, have opposed it on the grounds that the location is an important grazing land and source of groundwater recharge.

Environmentalists have opposed it because forests on the location are connected to a wildlife sanctuary and tiger reserve. The Loliem gram sabha now plans to put the IIT plan to vote.

Must Read:Dreaming of joining IIT Goa? Its proposed campus may just get shelved

A group of locals from Loliem have written to the MHRD and Goa's technical education director referring to Gaitonde's note.

The letter says, "The IIT shouldn't have been located at GEC. The Loliem site selected is totally unsuitable for the purpose, since it will never get requisite environmental permissions, the site being an eco-sensitive laterite plateau, which cannot be touched under any circumstances."

Interestingly, the NIT was also slated to come up in Loliem village (although on a different plot), but the plan was scrapped because of objections from locals.

Gaitonde could not be reached while Vivek Kamat, director of technical education, refused to comment on the note.

Land trouble

Land has always been a problem for the IIT Goa, which is why it had to shelve its initial plans to begin classes in 2015-16.

Goa CM Laxmikant Parsekar had even reportedly asked IIT Mumbai, which is the mentor for IIT Goa, to start the campus on its premises in Mumbai itself.

According to the note, Goa's technical education department was first informed in June 2015 that IIT Goa would commence classes this year, subject to the site of the permanent campus being approved by a site selection committee.

The committee visited the Loliem site in May this year and finalised it. The cabinet approved the IIT soon after.

The problems

The hurry in starting the IIT will affect students. The IIT Goa is now housed in GEC's mining department. 90 IIT students will be in computer science, electrical and mechanical engineering streams.

The note says that GEC has enough space only for 2000 students of its own and 500 students of NIT, and adding another institution and managing all three would be "a herculean task".

A senior official from the GEC told Catch that although the college is benefitting from the "exchange of ideas with good quality faculty", it is facing several challenges.

While there is ample space on the 285-acre campus, there's a shortage of student facilities.

"There is no hostel space for the IIT students. For this year, they are being given rooms on a sharing basis with GEC students. But after one year they should make arrangements to have their own hostel," the official said on the condition of anonymity.

NIT, he said, has arranged a hostel facility outside the campus.

There also aren't enough laboratories and equipment. "We have been told that they will have their own equipment for laboratories. But there is no information about it as yet," the official added.

Also Read:Now 6 new IITs: Tirupati, Palakkad, Dharwad, Bhilai, Goa, Jammu, and Dhanbad

Also Read:Go Goa Gone: Once water-abundant, state hit by acute scarcity

First published: 4 August 2016, 7:37 IST
Nihar Gokhale @nihargokhale

Nihar is a reporter with Catch, writing about the environment, water, and other public policy matters. He wrote about stock markets for a business daily before pursuing an interdisciplinary Master's degree in environmental and ecological economics. He likes listening to classical, folk and jazz music and dreams of learning to play the saxophone.