New Delhi: Jammu and Tirupati are among six cities across the country which are set to get IITs, with Parliament on Tuesday passing a bill in this regard.
Under the Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill 2016, which was approved today by the Rajya Sabha by voice vote, IITs will also be started in Palakkad (Kerala), Goa, Dharward (Karnataka) and Bhilai (Chhattisgarh).
Earlier, the Lok Sabha had passed on July 25 the Bill which also seeks to bring the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, within the ambit of the proposed Act.
Replying to a debate on the bill, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said the IITs are the centre of excellence and they will continue to remain like that.
"We will not allow anything that will lower their standards. Actually, we all should try to improve them further and make them really world class institutes. Therefore quality is absolutely important," he said.
Replying to Jairam Ramesh of Congress, who raised the issue of ensuring complete autonomy for the IITs, Javedekar said the HRD Ministry is not there on any board of IITs.
"MHRD is not even represented on Board of Governors. It is completely run by the Board. We only facilitate in finance and that is where we will concentrate," he said.
On funding for the premier institutes, he said there would not be any financial constraints for the growth of IITs.
The government is already working on a scheme for financing higher education infrastructure needs, particularly research infrastructure requirements, he added.
"Rs 20,000 crore will be leveraged through government's own contribution of nearly Rs 1,000 crore which is promised in this Budget and another Rs 1,000 crore will be coming from partners like nationalised banks or something," Javadekar said.
Admitting lack of faculty in the IITs, the HRD Minister said currently there are around 30 per cent vacancies in the premier institutes.
"We need to take proactive steps in this regard, including interviews of talent who are out of the country. We want to fill up the vacancies as soon as possible, in a continuous process. It's our priority," Javadekar said.
Replying to a matter raised by D Raja (CPI) on the issue of having freedom of expression on the campuses, Javadekar said the government will ensure freedom on the campuses.
"As responsible citizens of the country, we also work within the Constitutional framework and will abide by the laws of the land and these are the only two things we need to keep in mind. Expression of freedom is not curbed and we have no intention of doing so," he added.
Raja said obstructionists and fundamentalists were destroying the academic freedom on the campuses.
He said sedition charges have been filed against students at various places including JNU. "The(sedition charges) should be withdrawn," he said.
Raja also said that the government is not adhering to reservation policy in terms of appointments to IITs and NITs.
Replying on the issue, Javadekar said: "As far as reservation is concerned I will review immediately and we will ensure that reservation is implemented in letter and spirit."
On the fee structure, he said students from the ST and SC communities, from the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category and physically challenged have the full waiver of fees in the IITs and NITs. He said those whose family income is below Rs 9 lakh per annum also get education loan at zero percent interest rate.
"So fee hike is only for people who have an annual income of more than Rs 9 lakh. So what is against poor students? We are incurring an expense of Rs 6 lakh per year per student. So somebody has to pay," Javadekar said.
He said the government will also see to the timely completion of Ph.D.'s in the premier institutes.
He added that in order to give a boost to the research, the government has started Imprint project under which 450 projects have been short-listed. These projects will be given a funding of Rs 1 to Rs 5 crore, he added.
He added due to the push given by the government for Start-Ups, more than 44 such units have started working from IIT campuses.
"Everything is being facilitated," the HRD Minister said.
On new initiatives lined up by the government like Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, Javadekar said: "We don't want to restrict it to IITs. We want to take it to all central universities, all colleges so that they become Unnat Bharat Abhiyaan. More than one lakh villages in near future can be brought under such type of collaborative effort."
He added that the government is already working on having 20 world class institutes, 10 in the government sector and 10 in the private sector.
Earlier, speaking during the debate, Jairam Ramesh (Congress) said "climate change" is taking place in the HRD Ministry.
He said IITs "should be freed" from the control of HRD Ministry.
"Give full autonomy to the Boards (of IITs) and hold them accountable for very issue including expenditure. Let the institutes be run by Board which you appoint," Ramesh said.
"Please get rid of MHRD from these institutes of higher education. The single biggest problem with these institutes is control of MHRD," he added.
Prabhakar Kore (BJP) said IITs should come up only with proper infrastructure and faculty.
D Raja (CPI) said higher education has become big business in the private sector, so the government should come up with more such institutes like IITs in the country.
He asked the government to look into establishing an IIT in Puducherry, which he termed as a long pending demand.
N Gokulakrishnan (AIDMK) also asked the government to sanction an IIT and IIM in Puducherry.
MD Nadimul Haque (AITC) said the government's first focus should be on improving infrastructure, faculty and research facilities in the IITs.
Favouring one IIT in each state, he urged the government to roll back the fee hike.
CP Narayanan (CPIM) said the government should ensure the availability of sanctioned staff in the institutes.
Attacking "feudal system" he urged the government to improve the environment in the IITs.
Dilip Kumar Tirkey (BJD) and Rajaram (BSP) asked the government to roll back the fee hike.
V Vijay Sai Reddy (YSR Congress) said more courses, including postgraduate courses, should be started at IIT Tirupati.