SU students stage dharna, get written assurance on campus construction by 2021

GANGTOK, 20 Apr:

Raising slogans of ‘We Want Campus, Hamari Mangey Poori Karo, Campus Hamro Adhikar, Permanent VC Chahiye’, students of Sikkim University today marched from Cauveri Hostel in 5th Mile Tadong till the main administrative block of the university situated at 6th Mile Tadong and then sat on a dharna in the administrative block premises.

The students had launched a pen-down protest ‘Mission Campus’ on Friday demanding that the construction of the permanent campus at Yangang be completed at the earliest, appointment of a permanent Vice Chancellor and other demands related to the University.

The rally today was led by Sikkim University Student’s Association [SUSA] which is spearheading the protest.

SUSA president, Lalit Pokhrel Sharma mentioned that their main demand is a permanent campus for the university. He added that students do not want any more excuses from the authorities and will shut down the administrative block until the concerned authority arrives at a proper decision.

“We are neither against nor in favour of anyone. We will not move until we get a written assurance from the authorities,” he said.

SUSA general secretary, Sonam Dorjee Bhutia stated the students also want the appointment of a Vice Chancellor for the university.

“We do have an officiating VC but he does not hold much power. We also do not have a permanent librarian here in Sikkim University. So, we want answers,” he stated.

In response, Dean of student’s welfare, S Manivannan said that the matter could be discussed in a meeting with SUSA president and general secretary at around noon but the students rejected the proposal.

On behalf of the student fraternity, the executive members of SUSA submitted a memorandum to the acting VC, Dr JP Tamang with demands like details of the funds related to the construction of the campus, duration taken for its completion, appointment of permanent VC within a week, appointment of permanent librarian and increase in the number of hostels.

The memorandum also demanded that the university authorities shift the campus to Yangang within a year and complete construction within three years.

“If the administration is not capable of bringing in funds for the construction, the students demand resignations from those in the administrative section,” the statement read. The statement was signed by all nine SUSA executive members.

After conducting a meeting with the university’s concerned authorities, the VC [officiating] addressed the gathering. The university fully respects and endorses the demands placed by the students as the demands are legitimate, he said further adding that the university was established as per an Act of the Parliament and came into existence in 2007. All funds are passed by the Central Government and the procedure is lengthy, he stated.

Dr Tamang further said that the proposal for campus construction was made in 2016 and the construction work started last year. He explained that an amount of Rs 1600 crore for phase 1 and phase 2 were proposed but the university only received Rs 110 crore.

“From 2017-18, only the structure of the administrative block, academic block and library has been completed. The remaining amount has not been sanctioned after that," he explained.

He added, “On behalf of the university, I have officially met with the UGC members regarding the issue. Although the demand is not a concern of the state government, I have also requested Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and Governor cum SU Rector Shriniwas Patil to place the demand before the Central Government and they have given their assurance.”

Regarding the appointment of a permanent VC, Dr Tamang explained that he was appointed as the officiating VC as he was the senior most in the university.

“The procedure for the appointment of VCs is happening in 42 universities right now. The procedure is lengthy. He/she is appointed by MHRD and is finally elected by the President of India. It is not in the hands of the university,” he informed. Dr Tamang assured to look into the demands regarding hostel facilities and further informed that the university has issued tenders for buildings to create more hostels.

Teaching and non-teaching staff of the university also showed their support for the students' demands.

Later at around 6 30 in the evening, in a letter addressed to the SUSA president, the Sikkim University authorities assured that the construction of the campus would be completed within three years. The letter has been signed by VC [officiating], Prof JP Tamang, Registrar, TK Kaul and Finance Officer, Debasish Pal of SU.

The letter reads, “Please refer to the demand for construction of campus of Sikkim University during the full day demonstration at Administrative Block on 20 April 2018 by SUSA. It is informed that Sikkim University is committed for construction of campus within three years, i.e. upto 20 April 2021 subject to no extension. University will make out efforts for getting the funds for campus construction from MHRD/UGC to fulfil the commitment. Progress report on campus construction will be given every three months to SUSA.”

It is informed that classes will resume from Monday.