The State government plans to set up Rani Channamma University (RCU) as a multi-campus university after the Union government rejected its request to regularise the transfer of forest land to the educational institution.
The Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the Union government has dismissed the State government’s move to transfer 177 acres of forest land to RCU in Bhutramanahatti village on Belagavi- Kolhapur Road.
It has asked the State government to find alternative sites for the university. This was because of the fundamental principle that forest land should not be used for non-forest purposes, the FAC noted.
Revenue and Higher Education departments officers finalised a patch of land of around 70 acres near Hire Bagewadi.
“However, this was not enough as per UGC norms and the university needs at least 120 acres of land. The rest of the 50 acres was not available nearby. That is why we are planning to set up a multi-campus university,’’ a Higher Education officials said.
The understanding is that the RCU administrative offices shall remain on the present campus in Bhutaramanahatti, according to the officer.
According to her, the government will submit an application to the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development seeking permission to set up multiple campuses on the lines of Bombay University and Delhi University that have multiple campuses.
“We are hopeful of getting the permission as till its recent division, Bangalore University had multiple campuses,” the officer said.
However, the issue has got entangled in local politics. The existing headquarters of the university is in Yamakanamaradi Assembly constituency represented by Satish Jarkiholi, Congress MLA. The alternative campus in Hire Bagewadi is in Belagavi Rural constituency, the home turf of Lakshmi Hebbalkar, Congress MLA. BJP leaders, including Ramesh Jarkiholi, are not very happy with the university being set up in these two Congress constituencies.
They want another centre to be set up in Kittur, held by BJP MLA Mahantesh Dodagoudar. Mr. Dodagoudar has written a letter to the government requesting that the RCU centre be set up in Kittur.
“Since Kittur is within 30 kilometres of Dharwad, that houses two State universities, Karnataka University and University of Agriculture Sciences, and the IIT, it may be difficult to establish a full-fledged university in Kittur. Higher Education Department officers have, however, indicated that some departments like History, Archaeology and the Kittur Channamma Study Centre may be set up in Kittur,’’ said a university official.
There have been demands from groups in Bailhongal that the RCU headquarters be shifted to their town. Mr Ramesh Jarkiholi told a delegation from Bailhongal that he would request Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa to set up one more branch of the university in Bailhongal.
University officials say that they are waiting for the campuses to come up so that academic work starts in earnest. “We have requested the government to resolve the situation by finding us some land. We are willing to work in a multi-campus university,’’ said Vice-Chancellor Ramachandra Gowda.
Courtesy: The Hindu