The construction of the proposed central university at Vikramshila in Bihar, announced as part of the ₹1,25,000-crore special package for Bihar by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, has not begun seven years on, with the state government awaiting the Centre’s decision on land where the university would be set up.
Leading up to the 2015 Bihar state assembly elections, Modi announced a special package for Bihar, which included funding for the establishment of a central university at the historical seat of Vikramshila in the Bhagalpur district of the state.
Subsequently, the Bihar government was asked to recommend 500 acres of unencumbered land for the project and the state government proposed three different sites by January 28, 2021. A three-member committee also inspected a 200-acre plot of land about four kilometres from the site. A committee led by HCS Rathore, then a vice chancellor of the Central University of South Bihar, gave an interim report regarding the same land in March, 2021.
During the winter session of the Rajya Sabha in December last year, the former deputy chief minister of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi, raised a question about the Centre’s take on the land report sent by the state government.
On December 21 last year, Subhas Sarkar, Minister of State of the Education Ministry, said the site was not suitable for the project. “The Government of Bihar was requested to provide about 500 acres of land free from all encumbrances for the proposed University. However, on the request of the State Government the requirement of land was reduced to about 200 acres to begin with and the remaining to be furnished for future expansion. The State Govt offered the land measuring about 200 acres at three sites. The Site Selection Committee of this Ministry visited the sites in February 2022 and did not find the sites suitable. The Committee has requested for another location closer to ancient monument for holistic future growth perspective of the area,” he said.
Bihar has four central universities, in addition to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and National Institute of Technology, as well as an off-campus center of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in Kishanganj.
The land acquisition process for central universities in Bihar has also been an issue previously. About 224 acres of land, along with funds, to build its own campus are still in the pipeline for AMU’s Kishanganj center, forcing it to operate from a rented building. The Mahatma Gandhi Central University in Motihari is also operating on a temporary campus.