|Since the run-up to the 2014 Assembly election, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has been projecting Visakhapatnam as the education hub of the State. Even local MLAs, MPs and Ministers have been singing the same tune. But on ground, the scenario is far away from it.|
A few institutes, including some central institutes, have come in, but they are still operating from hired campuses in ad hoc mode and are far from moving into their own campuses.
Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University (DSNLU), a central project set up about six years ago, is still to move fully to its campus in Sabbavaram in the district.
The State government has sanctioned about 45-acres and the construction has been lingering on since the last four years. Just one block has been completed and the officials have moved partly into the campus. The plans are grand, the block that is built with the sprawling library and moot court on the campus is said to be one among the best in the country, as per the rating of many top judges who had visited the site, but the slow pace of work is mainly due to the irregular release of funds from the State government.
In the case of the IIM-Visakhapatnam and the Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy (IIPE), the construction work is yet to begin, though the MoUs have been signed about two years ago.
Both the institutes are operating from makeshift campuses, leased out by the Andhra University.
Though the central institutes are ready with their plans and funds, the land alienation and the promise by the State government to build a compound wall is taking time.
The IIM-V was allotted about 300 acres near Gambheeram about 30 km from the city, but land alienation took some time and the government is yet to handover it after building the compound wall, as promised.
In the case of the IIPE, the government has allotted about 201.8 acres at Sabbavaram, but it is learnt that the land acquisition has got embroiled in some issues with the farmers.
The entire project cost of the IIPE is estimated to be about Rs. 800 crores, which will be borne by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and will be backed both financially and academically by oil majors such as the HPCL, IOCL, ONGC, GAIL, OIL, OIDB, BPCL and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, but despite the support the State government has not been able to speed up the process.
The same was the case with the Indian Maritime University (IMU), which is backed by the Ministry of Shipping. It took over five years for the State government to handover the land to the university.
Most essentially, the proposed education city at Sabbavaram has taken a beating, as the government has so far not been able to tap an anchor partner to invest in the project.
The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) that initially was talked of for setting up shop in Sabbavaram is learnt to have backed off.
A senior educationist pointed out that the State government’s focus has shifted from Visakhapatnam to Amaravati where a number of private universities have assured to start operations from.