Varsities Bill back in focus.

May 18: The Andhra Pradesh Private Universities Bill, which was lying in cold storage since 2004, has come back into focus thanks to the old airport at Begumpet.

A few private aviation companies have been lobbying hard with the state government to set up an “aviation university” at the old Begumpet airport spread over 845 acres. As per government estimates, the land is worth Rs 16,000 crore. For the varsity to be set up, the state government has to pass the Private Universities Bill in the Legislative Assembly, and to this effect it has stepped up efforts to introduce the Bill in the ensuing Monsoon Session of the Assembly.

Minister for higher education Mr Damodara Rajanarasimha has directed officials to take up the Bill on a priority basis and the officials are in the process of studying Bills introduced in other states like Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal for setting up private universities. It should be noted, however, that the Union ministry of civil aviation had turned down a proposal forwarded by late chief minister Y.S. Rajashekar Reddy for setting up an aviation university at Begumpet airport by the state government after airport operations shifted to Shamshabad in 2008.

Official sources said the representatives of Rajiv Gandhi Aviation Academy, a Secunderabad-based aviation training academy, has come up with a proposal to set up the aviation university at Begumpet airport in partnership with Goldstone, which runs a small private airport in Barstow, California, US and two other aviation firms from Europe and Canada. They informed the government that they have already secured an “in-principle approval” from the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Airports Authority of India for setting up the private university and requested the state government to pass the Private Universities Bill for the purpose.

When the officials suggested that they opt for a “deemed university status”, they informed that it would not be possible since the University Grants Commission accorded “deemed status” to only those institutes which were in operation for more than five years and thus the Private Universities Bill was the only available option to set up the aviation university.

Source : DC

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