Special Correspondent

BHUBANESWAR: Even as the legislators of the ruling Biju Janata Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition raised the demand for establishment of an Indian Institute of Technology in the State Assembly on Thursday, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik took up the demand before the Centre outside the House.

In his usual style of writing letters to the Central Government to highlight various demands of the State, Mr. Patnaik dashed off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him take a decision for establishment of an IIT in the State without delay.

Blaming the Centre for ignoring the State’s demand for establishment of an IIT for long, Mr. Patnaik said the Centre’s recent decision to set up IITs in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal was a clear case of political favouritism.

The two neighbouring States had been given greenfield IITs although both States already had higher educational institutions, Mr. Patnaik said in his letter.

Stating that Orissa had been denied an IIT during the 2008-09 financial year, Mr. Patnaik said the chances of the State getting the same during the 11th Plan period were also bleak.

He pointed out that even 60 years after Independence not single higher educational institution or a Central University had been established in Orissa.

While the 11th Plan had the target of 15 per cent students seeking admission for higher education in the country, only 6.1 per cent students of Orissa were getting the opportunity to pursue higher education, Mr. Patnaik said.

If the Central Government wanted balanced development to take place in the country, Orissa should be given an IIT on a priority basis, he said.

Mr. Patnaik reiterated that setting up of an IIT had become necessary to cater to the growing requirement of trained manpower for the upcoming industries in the State.

The Chief Minister had taken up the IIT demand before the Centre on several occasions in the past, but to no avail.

Earlier in the day, legislators of the ruling parties stalled the Assembly proceedings to highlight their demand for an IIT. They also sat on dharna near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the Assembly campus to draw the Centre’s attention.