The Maharashtra Cabinet on Tuesday approved a range of sops and relaxations for proposed educational institutes that get the “institution of eminence” tag from the Centre. One of the institutions that got the label in July – the yet-to-be-set-up Jio Institute – will be the immediate beneficiary of the announcement, unidentified officials told The Indian Express.
The Centre has proposed the “institutions of eminence” tag for 10 private and 10 public institutions, including ones yet to be established. It has announced six names so far, and Jio Institute, sponsored by the Reliance Foundation, is the only one chosen that does not exist yet. The project is proposed to come up on an 800-acre parcel of land near Mumbai.
During its meeting on Tuesday, the state cabinet approved the construction of such institutions under the Integrated Townships Project, reported The Times of India. This means that these institutions will be able to avail of the concessions the government offers to developers building integrated townships in the state’s semi-urban belts. The institutions of eminence, like the townships, will get higher building rights on green land – they will be entitled to a floor space index of 1, or 100%. This index represents the part of the plot that can be used for construction. The concession will however be chargeable at market rates if the institution does not complete the construction work in three years.
Sponsors of such educational institutions will be allowed to acquire more than 500 hectares of land anywhere, according to the Cabinet’s decision.
Of the six institutions of eminence announced so far, IIT-Bombay and the proposed Jio Institute are the only ones in Maharashtra. Since IIT has no plans to shift from its Powai campus in Mumbai, Jio is most likely to benefit from the sops, The Times of India said.
The Cabinet also proposed legal concessions for the diversion of farm lands for setting up such educational institutes. It has proposed to waive the provision in the Mumbai Tenancy and Agricultural Land Act, 1967, that permits only an agriculturist to purchase farm land, reported The Indian Express.
The government also agreed in principle to grant concessions such as exemption from the limit for holding farm land, deemed conversion for non-farm use and a 50% exemption in the payment of development charges for construction. The education department justified the perks citing “intense competition” among states to host institutions of eminence. The perks will stay only as long as an institution has the eminence tag.
The revenue department has strongly opposed some other sops – such as concessions in payment of stamp duty – proposed by the education department for such institutions on the basis of a request from the University Grants Commission, unidentified officials told The Indian Express.
“The whole idea is to encourage organisations to set up world class institutes in the state,” Higher and Technical Education Minister Vinod Tawde told the newspaper. “The government will back such projects.”
The government has now appointed a ministerial sub-committee to work out the remaining modalities, and resolve issues raised by the revenue department.