Row over shifting Rani Channamma University

A video statement by the former MLA Sanjay Patil has kicked up a controversy over shifting the Rani Channamma University out of Bhutaramanahatti village near Belagavi.

The BJP leader’s statement on Wednesday that the university would be relocated to Hire Bagewadi village in Belagavi Rural constituency that he represented earlier has added political colour to his statement.

Congress MLA Satish Jarkiholi, who represents Yamakanamaradi constituency, countered Mr. Patil’s statement saying that the university would not be shifted but it would only be expanding its activities by functioning from two locations.

Mr. Patil, in the video released from Bengaluru, said that Revenue Minister R. Ashok had cleared the government’s plans to acquire 70 acres of land in Hire Bagewadi village, with consent of farmers.

This needs to be ratified by the State Cabinet, he said.

He said that since the Union government had refused to approve of the State government’s grant of forest land to the university, the latter was forced to shift base. “There were reports that it could be shifted to Bagalkot. But the State government has succeeded in retaining the university in Belagavi,” he said. He said that he was very happy that the university was coming to his former constituency.

Mr. Jarkiholi, however, countered this saying that the university was not shifting to Hire Bagewadi and that there was no need to panic. “It is only expanding its campus as it does not have enough land in Bhutaramanahatti for development,” he said. The State government had given some funds to the university that would lapse if it could not find any land, he said.

University officers, meanwhile, said that the State government has hinted at retaining the administrative block and some academic departments in Bhutaramanahatti while shifting other departments to Hire Bagewadi.

“As per University Grants Commission guidelines, the main campus for a multi-domain university should be around 100 acres. We could retain the administrative wing on the 30 acres here and have an academic wing in Hire Bagewadi village where we could get 70 acres,” said a senior officer tasked with administration of the university.

Earlier this year, Vice-Chancellor of the university Ramachandra Gowda had sought 200 acres — around 120 acres of government land and 80 acres of private farmland — in Hire Bagewadi and Halagimaradi villages in Belagavi Rural constituency.

“Then Deputy Commissioner S.B. Bommanahalli circulated a note to stakeholders seeking opinions. However, the State government did not approve of this proposal after the Jarkiholi brothers said that the university need not move out of Yamakanamaradi constituency. Now, they have come up with this compromise that the office complex should stay in Yamakanamaradi, while the schools can function from Belagavi Rural constituency,’’ the officer said.

University Grants Commission rules say that a university should have a 100-acre contiguous campus. However, it can relax the rules if need be, says Dr. Ramachandra Gowda. University Grants Commission has allowed Delhi University to function from four campuses, Bombay University from three campuses and Bangalore University from two campuses. “If we are given two campuses, we will develop both and create a university of excellence,” he said.

Student leader and former university syndicate member Narasimha Raichur, decried party politics on the location of the university. “Politicians from all parties should realise that the university is an asset to the region and its development would help students from across North Karnataka. They should stop playing petty politics over its location and focus on granting land to it and developing it further,” he said.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has repeatedly rejected proposals to accord post-facto approval to the grant of around 177 acres of forest land by the State government to set up an extension centre of Karnatak University Dharwad in 1989.

In 2018, the Union government gave an ultimatum to the State government to shift the university away from the forest area.

Dr. Ramachandra Gowda and other officials held a series of meetings with farmers to give up their land in Hire Bagewadi and Halagimaradi villages, after which they issued a jointly signed letter to the Deputy Commissioner offering to give up their land for acquisition for the university.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 12:18:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/row-over-shifting-rani-channamma-university/article32572906.ece

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