Decision on Dharwad IIT final: HRD ministry

BENGALURU/Mysuru: Chief minister Siddaramaiah may have sought a change in location of the proposed IIT from Dharwad to Raichur. But the Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD) is unlikely to entertain the request. Any dilly dallying on the issue at this juncture, ministry sources said, will only delay the setting up of the IIT.

“The decision taken by the joint selection committee to set up an IIT in Dharwad is final,”‘ sources in the MHRD said. They added that it is practically impossible for the ministry to change the location now as there is no precedence of such an action having been carried out. Also, entertaining such requests, they say, will open a Pandora’s box with other states also trying to exert political pressure for the same purpose.

Siddaramaiah had recently dispatched a letter to the HRD minister Smriti Irani seeking to change the location of the IIT site to Raichur, stating it was always the state’s first preference.

But a senior MHRD official said, “There was no divisive opinion on setting up the IIT in Dharwad. The selection committee, having visited all the three locations, had zeroed in on the site location. There is no precedence by the MHRD of ever changing the location of an IIT within a state,” said.

Sources said the MHRD is already preparing a note to secure the sanction of the Union cabinet for setting up a transit campus at Dharwad, which suggests that any reversal of its decision due to political pressure may push back the dates of setting up an IIT in Karnataka.

The transit campus, suggested by the MHRD, is at the Water and Land Management Institute (WALMI) located opposite the proposed site for the Dharwad IIT. The Karnataka government, nonetheless, is still hopeful of the Centre reversing its decision and awarding Raichur the IIT.

Meanwhile, facing flak from various quarters, Siddaramaiah in Mysuru on Tuesday sought to set the record straight on the IIT imbroglio. He said Raichur was not an afterthought by the government and it had been suggested to the Centre to set up the IIT at Raichur given that the Centre has awarded the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) to Dharwad. Among the three cities proposed for IIT, Raichur topped the list followed by Mysuru and Dharwad, the CM said.

He said Raichur district’s backwardness coupled with the long-term agitation to set up an IIT there were among the factors that led to his suggestion. “The Centre has awarded the IIIT to Dharwad and I thought it is better that we have the premier institution at Raichur. I am not against setting up of the IIT in Dharwad. If the two central institutions are set up in two different cities in north Karnataka, it will help in development,” he explained.

Asked whether he will meet the HRD minister Smriti Irani during his visit to New Delhi on Wednesday, Siddaramaiah replied in the negative.