Fate of Rani Channamma varsity hangs in the balance

The fate of Belagavi-based Rani Channamma University (RCU) hangs in the balance with the Union government’s Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) virtually rejecting the State government’s request to grant forest land for setting up its administrative campus.

The FAC has found several violations in the grant of 177 acres of land by the State government to the university. It has rejected the post-facto approval sought by the State government for regularising the grant made in 1990. It has not accepted the State government’s claim that the act should not be considered a violation as the forest land was marked as gomal/gairan public grazing land and that the grant was made in good faith.

It has also asked the State government to look for alternative sites to be given to the RCU. It has directed the government to clarify some important violations, including how the State government sanctioned forest land to the university it knew would use it for non-forest purposes, how it took up construction after clearing some land despite objections from the Forest Department, and how it sold a part of the land to the National Highways Authority of India in violation of rules.

This was communicated to the State government on June 13.

The university, started in 2010, is yet to be assessed by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council. “Since having own land and campus is among the preliminary requisites for any educational institution, the RCU’s accreditation will be delayed further. As long as we remain unaccredited, we will not receive any Central grants,” said C.N. Waghmare, president, Postgraduate SC/ST Teachers’ Association. “Lack of space is hindering our activities. We are forced to operate out of cramped offices. Four-five teachers sit in a room that is 10 ft X10 ft. There is no place to receive guest faculty, and there is no place to conduct seminars or other programmes. We don’t have a well-equipped library. Our students are forced to stand in laboratories and classes owing to lack of space,” Mr. Waghmare said.

The association has submitted a memorandum to Suresh Angadi, MP, to convince the Union government to approve the grant. Mr. Angadi told
The Hindu
that he would try his best to get the land to the university. “I will speak to the Union Human Resource Minister and the Union Forest Minister and officials concerned,” he said.

Background

In 1990, the then Deputy Commissioner granted the land bearing survey number 1/1 of Bhutaramanahatti to Karnatak University, Dharwad, to set up its postgraduate centre. Within a month, the Forest Department objected to it and urged the Deputy Commissioner to cancel the grant. In 1993, the government asked Forest officials not to interfere in the matter and decided to seek post-facto approval of the grant with the Union government. The PG centre was upgraded to RCU in 2010. However, its requests were returned as they did not have documents supporting compensatory afforestation efforts and other details. The State government made the first online submission for approval in 2016.

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