BJD MLAs Propose Tribal University In Odisha’s Keonjhar

Keonjhar: The proposal to set up a tribal university in Keonjhar gathered steam with five BJD MLAs from the district writing to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in this regard.

The MLAs are minister and Telkoi representative Premananda Nayak; Badri Narayan Patra (Ghasipura); Bhagirathi Sethi (Anandpur); Jagannath Naik (Patana ) and Minakshi Mahanta (Champua).

The MLAS stated in the latter that the state government in 1998 had decided to de-affiliate 48 colleges of Keonjhar district from Utkal University and attached them to the Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanja Deo University (MSCB) University (earlier known as North Odisha University (NOU) at Baripada in Mayurbhanj district.

However, considering the long distance (of about 180 km) of Keonjhar from Baripada, the natural geographical barrier and lack of communication facility between the two districts, the state government, in 2015, had decided to open a second campus of the MSCB University at Keonjhar to cater to the needs of students and about 50 affiliated colleges of the district.

The  second campus of the university which is functioning over 14.50 acres of land on the outskirts of Keonjhar town will get an additional 10 acres of land adjacent to the university identified by the district administration.

They further said the official works of the students, faculty and the affiliated colleges continue to be carried out at the university headquarters at Baripada as all the officials of the university are staying there.

“As there is no frequent bus communication between the two district headquarters and it takes 8-10 hours to reach Baripada from Keonjhar, the students/faculty going to Keonjhar for any official/academic work have to stay in the hotel for days. Apart from this, the people from the interior areas of Keonjhar district face still more problems,” the BJD MLAs pointed out.

Referring to the staff strength in the second campus of the university in Keonjhar, they said the five departments are acutely short of faculty and support staff. Apart from this, as most of the allotments like grants from UGC, state government and RUSA gets utilised in the university main campus, there are no laboratories in Geology and Material Science departments in the second campus and other basic facilities like a good library, seminar room, cafeteria, playground and hostels.

They also pointed out that even though the state government has created specific posts like Deputy Registrar, Deputy Controller of Examination etc exclusively for the second campus, the said officials have joined at Baripada instead of Keonjhar and continue to work at the main campus at Baripada.

“Besides, though a Distant Education Centre of NOU has been opened at the second campus, the in-charge officers are staying at Baripada. As a result, no classes are conducted while any books/study materials are available for the students of Keonjhar district,” they noted.

Justifying their contention, they said as about one-fourth of the population of the state and more than one-third of Keonjhar district are tribals, taking into consideration their long-cherished dream for higher education and research in the domain of tribal knowledge and culture, the second campus of the university in Keonjhar can be built upon as a tribal university.

“At present, all other major tribal districts like Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh and Koraput have got a university each. However, the second campus of MSCB University can grow into a research university in the domain of tribal studies in the entire eastern region of the country keeping with the mandate of the New Education Policy,” the BJD MLAs said.

They requested the Chief Minister to take necessary steps to upgrade the second campus of MSCB University into a full-fledged tribal university to which all the 48 colleges of Keonjhar district may also be affiliated.

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