Non-resident Odia (NRO) Professor Digambara Patra has urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to set up the second agriculture university of the State at Bhawanipatna and several regional research centres of the varsity across the KBK region.
In a letter to Chief Minister Patnaik and Chief Secretary GC Pati, Patra has resented the proposal of the House Committee headed by former Minister Pramilia Mallick for setting up the varsity in Similiguda of Koraput district.
Describing it as political favoritism, Patra argued that Bhawanipatna has several merits for the top institution such as strategic location, an agriculture college with faculty, staff and infrastructure, administrative and academic advantages of the district.
Notably, last year Chief Minister Patnaik had appealed to the Centre for the second Agriculture University in KBK region. Former Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had suggested setting up the university in Kalahandi since the district is a top producer of rice, cotton and pulses in the State and it required advanced technology to boost its farming.
The State Government had earlier asked Orissa University of Agriculture Technology (OUAT) to submit a feasibility report to upgrade the current agriculture college at Bhawanipatna to a university.
Patra said that Kalahandi is among the 25th largest rice producer districts in India. The agriculture growth of the district is not yet saturated and it is predicted that it can be one of the forefront districts in the nation in agriculture growth.
He said Bhawanipatna is located centrally among all KBK districts and suits the interest for all the KBK districts. Semiliguda is more than 300 km from Balangir, 340 km from Nuapada and 360 km from Sonepur, whereas the farthest KBK district headquarters Malkangiri is within 250 km from Bhawanipatna.
Rest of the KBK district headquarters are in 150 km from Bhawanipatna (4 of them are in 100 km range). The proximity of Bhawanipatna to all the existing Regional Research and Transfer Technology Stations and Regional Research and Transfer Technology Sub-Stations of OUAT in KBK and western Odisha region even demands location of the proposed university at Bhawanipatna, he pointed out.
Patra suggested that the infrastructure, students and staff of the Agriculture College at Bhawanipatna can be used initially for the new university till it comes full-fledged. He said that water, electricity and road infrastructure is already available in the existing building of the college. Only the current facilities need to be expanded within in the campus, he added.
He stated that the Agriculture College is located in the township area and neighboring to Bhawanipatna railway station and on Khariar-Bhawanipatna SH 16, which is being expanded to a four lanes through World Bank assistance.
“The land available under OUAT campus in Bhawanipatna is in the samerange of land area where OUAT main campus is located in Bhubaneswar. Of course, land available in the Regional Research and Transfer Technology Station at Similiguda is much higher, but this is largely outside the urban area for research purposes, whereas the land available in Bhawanipatna is within in the township area. If land is the actual concern, there is plenty of land available adjacent to Agriculture College, Bhawanipatna that the Government could easily acquire for the purpose,” he said.
He continued to say, “However, most of the Agriculture Universities or Faculties keep their research centers that need substantial farming land in rural campus and undertake teaching and campus housing related activities in the urban campus. For example, farm and research center of Agriculture Faculty of my University is in a rural area, 75 km from our main campus where teaching is carried out.”
He also suggested that “It could be a good idea to keep the teaching campus of the proposed second agriculture university in the urban location like Bhawanipatna and distribute the research centers to various districts in KBK region”.