Indore Agriculture College Students Protest ‘Plan’ to Shift Campus
Students of College of Agriculture, Indore, protest outside the campus.
Bhopal: News about the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government’s alleged plan to shift the 97-year-old prestigious College of Agriculture, Indore, to a location 40 km away to use the land for commercial purposes has kicked up a storm with students and alumni launching an indefinite protest.
The government has “planned to auction” the college land on the Public Asset Management Department’s portal, the students alleged.
The students, who have been protesting outside the campus since last week, alleged that this is the third attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state government in the last five years to use the college land, spread over 300 acres in the heart of the city and allocated by the Holker rulers in 1925-26.
“In 2016 and afterwards, attempts were made to use the land for Indore Metro and constructing bungalows of Judges. But the government backed out due to protests,” said Radhe Jat, president of the college alumni association told Newsclick.
In almost a century-old premier Agriculture College, over 600 students have been studying in over a dozen subjects.
The college, affiliated with the Gwalior-based Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Agriculture University, offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses to more than 600 students who crack the Madhya Pradesh Pre Agriculture Test. Besides, more than a dozen research projects in collaboration with national and international agriculture institutes are under way at the college.
The news about the shifting of the college spread after Indore’s municipal corporation commissioner Pawan Kumar Sharma allegedly urged college dean SK Choudhary on July 15 to allow using the land during an official meeting in the district collector’s presence. The following day, a senior official visited the college and moted the land’s details.
On July 18, Choudhary was asked to attend a meeting headed by Anirudh Mukharjee, a senior official of the Madhya Pradesh Department of Investment and Public Asset Management, where he was presented with a plan for shifting the college.
Meanwhile, some local Hindi dailies reported that the state government is planning to shift the college to develop an oxyzone or for commercial purposes, triggering the student protest.
“From July 15 to 18, I attended three meetings in which officials asked me to submit a report to the district administration containing details of the land available with the college, which I did,” Choudhary told Newsclick.
When asked whether the college or university received any official notice, Choudhary said, “No. I haven’t received any official letter regarding the shifting of college but it seems that it is in the initial stage.”
Despite repeated attempts, Sharma did not respond to calls. State agriculture minister Kamal Patel was unavailable for comment as well.
SDM Anshul Khare said, “The agriculture college has around 122 hectares. We had only sought details for our records while the same has not been uploaded on the Public Asset Management Department’s portal for auction. There is no such plan or government instruction.”
State Cabinet minister and Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalist Tulsi Silawat dashed off a letter opposing the shifting of the college to chief minister (CM) Chouhan following the student protest.
The letter written by state Cabinet minister Tulsi opposing the shifting of the college to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Besides, many ruling party leaders have also extended their support to the protest.
BJP’s Indore MLA Ramesh Mandole meets with the protesters to extend support.
Former Union minister and Congress leader Arun Yadav, whose father and former deputy CM was enrolled in the college, also visited the campus to extend support to the protesting students. “It is one of the best agriculture research colleges in India and the pride of Madhya Pradesh. It’s not about land but heritage, legacy and quality of soil, which was allocated after finding it best for agriculture,” he told reporters.
“It’s shameful to see that when the college is gearing up to celebrate its 100 years, the BJP government is planning to shift it,” Yadav added.
The protesters said that the scientists during the British rule did agriculture research at the college till 1948-49. “The college and its building are of historical importance. Mahatma Gandhi had visited the college in 1935 and appreciated the organic manure manufacturing project,” they claimed.
Around 93,000 students, according to the protesters, have graduated from the college while research at the institute’s lab has played an important role in agriculture.
“We are getting support from former students, public representatives and dignitaries to save the college’s land from being auctioned through the PAM portal,” Kedar Sirohi, an alumnus, alleged.
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