AMU’s Kerala Off-Campus Center office inaugurated

By Najiya O.,

In what may be called a bid to pacify the outrage in the Malappuram district for not taking further action regarding the Off-Campus Centre of the Aligarh Muslim University, the State Government today opened an office to acquire land for the Centre.

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The office was inaugurated by KP Rajendran, State Revenue Minister, at a function held at Perinthalmanna, a city in Mallappuram district. V.Sasikumar, MLA, presided over the function which was attended by MC Mohandas, district collector, and Joy John, tehsildar, among others. The office will look into the land acquisition procedure for the Off-Campus Centre and is located in the mini civil station compound in the town.

Though the office is opened, only three officers have been appointed so far to look into the land acquisition procedure. Four months have passed after the Cabinet decided to appoint 40 officers for the purpose.

The off-campus centre of the prestigious university in Kerala is one among the five regional centres the AMU proposes to set in the country, the others being in Bhopal (MP), Pune (Maharashtra), Murshidabad (WB) and Katihar (Bihar).

“All courses taught in the University will be taught in the regional centres also,” said Rahat Abrar, PRO of the Aligarh Muslim University talking . “We have selected the areas dominated by Muslims and are in a backward condition. The University chose Malappuram district on this criteria. The Government of Kerala has assured us to give land for the regional centre of the University,”

Initially, 250-acres of land at Panakkad in the Malappuram district was selected for setting up the campus, last year. Mr. MA Baby, Education Minister, said in the Assembly that the Government had already written to the AMU about its willingness to give the land in question. But later it was known that the Industries Department had handed over the land to InKEL, a public-private company. The Government explanation was that the land was of the Industries Department and that it can’t be given to the Education Department. This created a big hue and cry in the state, with the opposition Muslim League and several Muslim organizations protesting against the government action.

On 21st January, the Cabinet decided to acquire land in Chelamala near Perinthalmanna (also in Malappuram district) for the Centre. The Government informed that the 400-acre land would be acquired within two months. One month later, the government decided to appoint 40 officers to look into the land acquisition process. The appointment was to be for six months. However, no action was taken upon the decision for the past four months.

According to the primary survey, in the 398-acre land in question, only 89 acres were suitable for construction activities. Also, the land-owners of the area have approached the court against the government decision to acquire their land. However, they have not yet received the acquisition notice from the government authorities.

This created doubts as to how far the government was committed to the off-campus centre which would be a great opportunity for the backward Malabar area to get access to high quality education. The issue was raised by the opposition during the time of elections in which the ruling Left Front fared very badly. It is in these circumstances that the Government took a hasty decision to open an office for land acquisition, though without the proper number of officers and necessary facilities.