With Union minister Arun Jaitley announcing plans to establish an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Karnataka in his Budget last Saturday, the debate over the location of the premier institution is hotting up.
Various organisations in North Karnataka are planning to mount pressure on the Union government to establish the much sought-after IIT near Dharwad on the Dharwad-Belagavi road. It was the then Union human resources development minister S R Bommai who had moved the proposal to the Central government to establish an IIT in Dharwad in the 1990s. The demand had first come from Dharwad, a hub of education.
Successive governments in the state had been pressuring the Union government to establish an IIT in Karnataka, but there had been no response from the Centre.
After the NDA government came to power, BJP leaders from the state, led by former chief minister Jagadish Shettar, state BJP president and MP Prahlad Joshi and others met Union Human Resources Development minister Smriti Irani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and urged them to fulfill the demand at the earliest.
In a memorandum submitted to the HRD minister and Prime Minister, the Karnataka delegation had highlighted the importance of establishing an IIT in Dharwad and had managed to elicit a positive response from the duo.
Hubballi-Dharwad West MLA Arvind Bellad said the finance minister’s announcement was a result of the pressure from the BJP leaders from Karnataka.
He said the case of Dharwad as the location for IIT has been made to the HRD minister and Prime Minister and now it is up to chief minister Siddaramaiah and higher education minister R V Deshpande to ensure that IIT comes up in Dharwad.
“We have already identified 500 acres of land belonging to the KIADB near Mummigatti between Dharwad and Belagavi. More land is available, if needed. As Dharwad has also been the growth centre for industries, it will be ideal for setting up an IIT here. Climate, connectivity, infrastructure and educational environment are all favourable to establishing an IIT. This will also address the problem of correcting the regional imbalance.
“Bengaluru already has an IIM and IISc and is already overcrowded. The proposed location for IIT near Mummigatti is just an hours drive from Belagavi, and it is along the Pune-Bengaluru National Highway,” Arvind said.
Now that the Union finance minister Arun Jaitley has announced in his Budget that IIT will be established in Karnataka Bengaluru, Mysuru and Hasan districts have also joined the race to get the IIT in their region.
Former vice chancellor of Mangaluru University Professor M I Savadatti welcomed the FM’s announcement and said establishment of IIT between Dharwad and Belagavi would boost educational as well as industrial activities in the region and help overall development of the region.
The people in North Karnataka cutting across the age barrier are using social media to mobilise support for an IIT in the Dharwad region. The pressure is already mounting on elected representatives to fight for the cause. Those demanding a separate statehood for North Karnataka have also joined hands.