Minister in-charge Agriculture Banteidor Lyngdoh on Wednesday said the state government is committed to pursue with the Government of India for the establishment of Central Agricultural University (CAU) in the state.
Replying to the zero hour notice tabled by Mawsynram legislator Himalaya Shangpliang in the Assembly, Lyngdoh said, “This government is committed in pursuing the matter with the Govt of India for materializing the establishment of CAU in the state and continue to do so.”
He informed that earlier in November last year, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma had again written to the Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar requesting him to move a bill in the Parliament on entry 64 as an institution of National Importance with regards to the establishment of CAU.
Lyngdoh also recalled that based on the similar request made by the Chief Minister, the Union Minister in August 2019 had informed that the matter was raised in the newly constituted Lok Sabha.
The answer given in the Parliament by the Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare reads as: – “It was proposed to set up a CAU at Barapani, Meghalaya to cater the states of Meghalaya and Nagaland on the basis of ‘in principle’ approval obtained from the Planning Commission in 2009. Subsequently, the Act governing CAU, Imphal was amended, therefore, fulfilling the requirement of setting up a separate CAU at Barapani, Meghalaya. The Ministry has also received a representation from the state government of Meghalaya and the same is being examined.”
The original proposal of the Government of India (GOI) was to establish another Central Agricultural University with its headquarter at Barapani (Umiam) in Meghalaya with the bifurcation of the CAU at Imphal and the jurisdiction of this new CAU to cover the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Sikkim.
The jurisdiction of the present CAU, Imphal to be over the states of Manipur, Tripura and Nagaland.
However, the state of Meghalaya would have to make 200 acres of land available free of cost for setting up the new Central Agricultural University and the site should be nearest to the ICAR Research Complex for NEH region located at Barapani (Umiam) with close proximity to the existing institutes of the College of Post Graduate Studies in Agriculture (CPGS), the Botanical Survey of India Research Centre, North Eastern Space Applications Centre (NESAC) and other central organizations in the vicinity for establishing linkages to provide the required academic and research support.
The location of the new CAU headquarter would also have easy accessibility from all the four states under consideration.
In 2010, the GOI through the Directorate of Agriculture Research and Education (DARE) under the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare constituted a four-member ‘Site Selection Committee’ and the site, a compact block of land measuring 226.3735 acres (016101.92 sq.m) at Kyrdemkulai (about 10-12 km from the campus of the college of Post Graduate Studies in Agriculture) offered by the Government of Meghalaya was inspected by the Team on February 13, 2010 to assess its feasibility and suitability of the land.
The Committee finally recommended to GOI this site for setting up the CAU headquarter which has the advantage of its proximity to the ICAR Research Complex.
The recommended site also fulfilled the pre-requisite requirements of DARE, Ministry of Agriculture that it should be contiguous or nearest to the ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region located in Ri Bhoi District.
Being centrally located the new CAU headquarter has easy accessibility from all the states under consideration for coverage under the new set-up.
The Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare had taken up the matter with the Additional Secretary, GOI, wherein the GOI was informed that the state government is ready with 200 acres of land, adjacent to Kharsati Nature Park, Kyrdemkulai, for setting up of the CAU.
This land was subsequently handed over to the Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare in January 2011 by the Deputy Commissioner, Ri Bhoi District.
It was in 2014 that the 200 acres of land at Kyrdemkulai was taken over by the Vice Chancellor, CAU Imphal on behalf of DARE for setting up the CAU with headquarter in Meghalaya by signing Memorandum of Transfer.
During January the same year, the then chief minister once again requested the then Union Minister for Agriculture to apprise the present status of the proposal.
The ICAR on October 28, 2015 had called for a meeting to discuss on various issues for establishment of the CAU, Barapani, wherein it appears that introduction of the Bill for establishment of the CAU was discussed and that further action on construction of College of Agriculture at Kyrdemkulai should be initiated.
It further appears that 20 nos of B.Sc Agri-students have then been enrolled under CAU, Imphal for the College of Agriculture in which awarding of degrees and other administrative purposes will be transferred to CAU, Barapani after establishment of the CAU, Barapani.
The state’s Department of Agriculture has raised the issue in the mid-term review of the Regional committee meeting at ICAR held in May 2017, the Education Division, ICAR, New Delhi cited reasons that , since CAU Imphal already exists in the Eastern Himalayan Zone, the opening of another CAU was not considered appropriate.
“Hence, the proposal was dropped by the competent authority, since as per guidelines one university has to be established in an Agro-Climatic Zone.,” he said.
He said that the land allotted in Kyrdemkulai for establishment of CAU had however been used for establishment of College of Agriculture as a constituent college of CAU, Imphal