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IIT Finds A Home

Campus to trigger unending chain of businesses in backward Sattari

The Indian Institute of Technology-Goa, which was declared unacceptable at two places, has at last found a home in the Guleli panchayat of the Sattari taluka. The state government has decided to give it 10 lakh square metre of land that belonged to the revenue department.

The government has conveyed its decision of land allocation to the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry which is the ministry looking after the infrastructure of IITs. There is not a happier person than IIT-Goa director B K Mishra who hopes to take possession of the land within a week and have the foundation stone for the building laid by the end of September. The speed at which the project is taken up now depends on the HRD ministry, whose site selection committee has to approve the earmarked land.  

The two sites earlier selected by the government, first in Canacona, then in Sanguem, had to be abandoned owing to opposition by some sections of locals. Opponents at Canacona feared water shortage for local population owing to IIT campus claiming a ‘substantial’ share of the ‘scarce water resources.’ Those in Sanguem feared losing agricultural land to IIT. Sections of locals had been opposing all kinds of projects in different parts of the state on grounds of environmental pollution, but opposition to an education project, that too such a prestigious one, was something that seemed very strange. The delay in IIT getting land in Goa was bringing a bad name to the state. Fortunately the state has redeemed its prestige.

The loss to Canacona and Sanguem is a gain to Sattari. The people of Guleli have warmly welcomed IIT. This will be the first institution of higher learning in the Sattari taluka, which so far does not have even a degree college, though it has institutions like Police Training School and Forest Training School. The coming of IIT would catalyse a kind of development Guleli and Sattari would not imagine. Within a few years, in order to cater to the students, teachers and non-teaching staff of IIT, a large number of businesses — shopping centres, hotels and restaurants, retail brands in apparel and shoes, cafes, entertainment centres and service centres– would come up in the area. It would also lead to upgradation of infrastructural facilities like roads, power and water supply. All this will generate employment in the form of businesses and jobs for the local people. That would lead to opening of skill development centres which would help local youth find employment nearer home, something not possible today.

The area in Guleli panchayat which is now given to IIT was first earmarked for an industrial estate, a project that for various reasons could not fructify. The decision to allocate it for IIT would however more than make up for the absence of industrial estate. It would also hopefully help the government check the illegal quarrying that has been going on unabated for years in the area.

With the location of IIT, the Sattari taluka, which has been seen as a backward and underdeveloped taluka, will gain a new identity and prestige. It will boost the collective pride of residents of Guleli in particular and Sattari in general.  The state government, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane who represents Valpoi and former chief minister Pratapsing Rane, who is an MLA and a senior leader of the Congress party and has always spoken for the people of Sattari should use the coming of IIT to develop the taluka as an educational hub. The government can help the establishment of a college and skill development centres. They can invite private educational institutions to open their centres in the taluka.

Although admissions in IITs are done entirely on the basis of an all-India competition, the coming of IIT to Goa is sure to have an influence on the minds of students studying mathematics in schools of the state, giving them an impetus to join the competition in a much larger number than they have been doing. The institutions in the state preparing students for IIT entrance tests might witness a rising demand for admissions. All this of course depends on how fast the central and state governments get the IIT campus ready.

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