K. Srimali

Representatives of SPA, New Delhi, are averse to moving away from the city

The stone was laid on Feb. 28 by Purandeswari

High-power committee to visit city this month

VIJAYAWADA: The permanent campus of the prestigious School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) sanctioned by the Centre is likely to come up in the city and its surroundings, not at Veerapanenigudem near Gannavaram where the Krishna district administration has identified 80 acres for the purpose.

Despite the best efforts being made by the district administration to get the campus located at Veerapanenigudem, there are indications that the representatives of SPA, New Delhi, who are playing an important role in the setting up of the Vijayawada campus, are averse to moving away from the city.

“We don’t think architecture and planning can be studied and practised sitting away from cities and towns. It is a subject that is best understood if students stay in the city or very near to it,” said Ranjit Mitra, Director of the SPA, New Delhi, and Director in-charge of the SPA, Vijayawada.

Speaking to The Hindu over phone recently, Prof. Mitra said that the roughly 10-acre patch identified on the campus of Government Polytechnic College could be put to optimum use to begin with. However, for future expansion, at least another 10 acres would be required for hostels and staff accommodation.

“The present campus of the Government Polytechnic College has not been built in a planned manner. If the campus is handed over to us in entirety, we can re-build it completely in such a way as to accommodate the polytechnic College as well,” Prof. Mitra felt.

That the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development too was keen on locating the campus here became evident with the laying of foundation stone on February 28 by D. Purandeswari during her previous stint as Union Minister of State for HRD.

Highly placed officials in the district administration indicated very recently that an effort would be made to find the additional land required for the campus within the five-km radius of the Government Polytechnic College. But, surprisingly, District Collector N. Sridhar said during his inspection of the site at Veerapanenigudem on Friday that the campus could be developed there.

A high-power committee of the Union Ministry of HRD and the SPA, New Delhi is likely to convey its final views on the issue during its scheduled visit to the city in the second week of this month.

After the Union Cabinet gave its nod in June 2008 for the setting up of two SPA campuses – one at Bhopal and another at Vijayawada – the Union Ministry of HRD, the State government and the district administration acted with speed to start the classes for the first batch without much delay. After no temporary campus could be found in Vijayawada, the first batch of 92 students, admitted through the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE), had their classes and stay on the Acharya Nagarjuna University campus.

With H.D. Chhaya, a retired professor of SPA, New Delhi, as professor in charge, the institution was run successfully by the visiting faculty from New Delhi and local architects. However, the ANU authorities this year indicated that they would not be able to spare hostel accommodation for SPA students in view of the shortage of rooms for their own students. Consequently, the institution will move to a temporary accommodation in Vijayawada for conducting classes for about 200 students of first and second years, until the permanent campus comes up.

“We have advertised locally and have provisionally zeroed in on a building on Pinnamaneni Polyclinic Road, where we will begin classes from September 1,” said Dr. Chhaya.