Ministry move part of budgetary allocation cuts

The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has deferred the proposal to convert Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) into an Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST).

The move comes close on the heels of a recent MHRD decision not to set up new central universities and IITs under the 12 Plan Period.

Reliable sources tracking the development told The Hindu on Monday that the UPA government’s plan to introduce budgetary cuts in schemes proposed by various ministries especially aimed at rolling out its ambitious programmes like the food security law was also a major reason for putting on hold Cusat’s upgradation proposal.

The Finance Ministry had asked various Ministries to prioritise its proposals considering the tough fiscal situation. The initial budgetary estimate for the IIEST plan was about Rs. 500 crore and the HRD ministry seems to be in no mood in implementing such schemes in the near future, sources said.

The HRD Minister M. M. Pallam Raju had earlier given a hint that the State will have to wait for realising its demand for an IIT under the 12 Plan. The Minister had also pointed out that his Ministry’s effort would be on consolidating the existing central universities and IITs.

A senior official in the Higher Education Department told The Hindu that the government would not push for the IIEST plan immediately, as the priority was to get an IIT. “Even though the HRD Minister’s announcement had cast shadows on the IIT project for the State, we are hopeful that things might take a positive turn,” he said.

The Ministry had delayed the approval of the Cusat upgradation proposal after the previous LDF government conveyed its desire that the university should be converted into an IIT and not an IIEST. A section of the teachers and employees had also opposed the Ministry's move to provide the framework of a National Institute of Technology for the proposed IIEST.

Cusat Vice-Chancellor Ramachandran Thekkedath said that he had not received any official information from the HRD ministry on whether the upgradation plan has been put on hold. The Vice-Chancellor had earlier pointed out that the Syndicate had passed a resolution stating that the Union government should convert the university into a Central institute.

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