Dr.MehrajUd Din Mir, the in-charge Vice Chancellor of Central University of Kashmir (CUK) and Dean Legal Studies, talks about the reasons for delay in the construction of a permanent CUK campus and the future plans to strengthen the academics of the varsity
It has been five years since the establishment of Central University of Kashmir (CUK), but a permanent campus inGanderbalis still not there. Why this delay and when is the permanent campus expected to come up in Ganderbal?
Unfortunately there has been a delay in construction of Ganderbal campus due to various reasons. The university in fact engaged one of the best architects for establishment of campus and the master plan has also been given final shape which has to come through many bodies.
Established in 2009, CUK started functioning since 2010. Our campuses right now are spread at five different places. We have three academic blocks in Nowgam, MagarmalBagh and Sonwar besides we also have two hostels to accommodate students. We have more than 5000 kanals of land allotted which fall in Kurhama, Tulmulla and Barsu villages in district Ganderbal. But there is some difficulty regarding quality of land there as it's by and large a marshy land and some of the villagers there are resisting the construction work of the campus.
The state government gave them compensation of about 1.20 lakh per kanal with the understanding that they will depart with the land. The ownership of the land lies with the state government. But the local villagers there are asking for jobs prior to the construction of the campus which has caused all this delay.
But the local villagers there are saying that they were promised jobs at the time of the establishment of the campus?
There was no promise from the university side at least since I have been the VC. There was no commitment regarding providing jobs. For the last many months we have visited each village where the campus constructions are supposed to come up and also met villagers and sarpanchs there to clear the misunderstanding regarding the campus construction.
The only problem we are facing right now is from the Kurhama side where major portion of campus lies. In fact the university authorities told them that once the buildings come up, job opportunities can then be raised. We had scope to accommodate them in outsourcing, but that can be possible only when the campus is first constructed. But they didn't agree and wanted to be employed before the construction could begin.
There has been delay on our part as well. There is no difficulty in terms of funds but in case I am not able to incur the expenses on campus construction, the central govt funds then get lapsed. About 400 crore is allotted as funds for the campus in different phases which should have been enough for the construction of the campus which should have come up by now.
Have you informed the state government here regarding these bottlenecks and sought support of local administration to help in the construction of the campus?
We have informed the state govt and we have written many letters to the Chief Minister and also written to the governor.
Besides, we have also informed the DC and lodged FIRs when we came to know that some of our contractors were harassed on the campus construction site. Of late we got a letter from department of higher education where in direction has been given to the DC to extend every help in the construction work of the campus in Ganderbal.
We have also raised our site office in Ganderbal wherein we have kept every facility and information regarding campus and we have also kept a small browsing centre there.
The idea is to develop skill based diploma courses. We are also working towards making pre-engineered structures wherein we can accommodate about eight departments. Recently we got a direction from the court instructing us to shift to the permanent campus as soon as possible.
What can the state government do to help in the speedy construction of CUK campus?
We don't need any financial support but we do need technical and moral support from state government so that we can construct the campus buildings. There are a number of water bodies around the proposed campus sites but our experts have taken care of them.
CUK can even become a big tourist attraction if the campus comes up. It seems the campus construction will take more than one year since the quality of the land is marshy there and it needs to be properly filled and prepared for construction.
What is the progress on the academic front and any new courses that will be started in CUK this year?
On academic front we have some senior professors who have come from KU and also some very efficient and young assistant professors.
We have 11 departments running many PG courses and one UG course. We are also contemplating to start new courses this year and some diploma courses as well. We have five experienced professors as deans of various schools in various departments who were earlier working in Kashmir University.
We have also floated some minor research projects for assistant professors wherein we provide them some grant. There is a central research committee in place and out of 12 faculty members from different departments who have applied for this grant seven faculty members have already been approved. We are also trying our best to develop an interface with the industry.
We are also signing MoUs with various dailies and some local industries for the internship of our students.We are going to revisit our curriculum so that it is tailored as per the demands of our society. This is the only university here where we have a representation from different sectors of the society.
What is the university doing for the placement of outgoing students? Is there a placement cell in place to help find jobs for the graduating students?
We are also attending to these problems. We have constituted placement cells at the department level. The only difficulty is that I don't have a separate staff for the placement cells. But right now our exiting faculty is monitoring it and looking after the placement concerns of outgoing students.
We are also seeking cooperation of our alumni and take their feedback to further improve and update our curriculum. We also have regular meetings with the heads of departments where in we raise such issues and we also facilitate internship of our students who go outside the state. Space is again a problem when we have to invite faculty or professionals from outside the state. Everything is done on outsourcing basis. We have to be dependent on hotels till our own guesthouse comes up.
The UGC has sanctioned B.Ed and M.Ed program to CUK and already released 5 crore rupees for this purpose. We also want to start new courses like M.Sc Physics and a B.Tech course in collaboration with NIT. We are looking forward to start more vocational courses this year.
We have also applied for a community radio.
Central University can become a leading university here if these bottlenecks are cleared and it can create more job avenues for the unemployed people.