A decision on the suggestion, which has been made by senior officers in the Ministry, is expected soon. Several universities and institutes have already begun, or are about to begin, the process of admission. (File Photo/Representational)
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) is likely to grant centrally-run higher education institutions an extra year to implement the 10 per cent quota for economically weaker sections (EWS), given that many institutions have not been able to create additional infrastructure because of the coronavirus lockdown.
A proposal to this effect was recently moved in the Ministry after the IITs and NITs sought a year’s extension to the 2021 deadline to add seats to accommodate the new quota.
A decision on the suggestion, which has been made by senior officers in the Ministry, is expected soon. Several universities and institutes have already begun, or are about to begin, the process of admission.
The Indian Express had reported on June 3 that IITs and NITs had requested an extension of the deadline citing the challenge of ensuring distancing in hostels, and the delay in the construction of new hostels due to the lockdown. The IITs had, in fact, submitted a request for an extension as early as in September last year, but it was not accepted.
First quota on economic deprivation
The Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill to grant 10 per cent reservation for EWS was passed by Parliament and became law in January 2019. This is the first time that reservation has been allowed on economic grounds. An EWS beneficiary is a person whose family has a gross annual income below Rs 8 lakh.
The HRD Ministry had set the 2021 deadline to implement the reservation for EWS by an executive order on January 17, 2019. All centrally-funded educational institutions, including IITs, NITs, IIMs, central universities, IISERs and IIITs, were asked to increase their overall student strength by 25% over two years to accommodate the quota. This was done to ensure there is no reduction in the existing seats for SC, ST, OBC, and general category students.
The IITs have to collectively increase their intake of students for the undergraduate, masters and research programmes by around 6,700 seats. Approximately 2,300 seats — about 500 of them in the B.Tech programme — were added in 2019-20; the remaining 4,400 seats, including around 1,300 for B.Tech, were expected to be added this year.
“In order to accommodate the increased student population, hostel facilities for the students were in the process of being augmented by constructing new hostels… However, due to the recent lockdown imposed by COVID-19 outbreak leading to the subsequent stop of all the construction-related work, the process to complete the above task to accommodate this increase in student enrolment has encountered a major obstacle. It is imminent that the construction work will not be completed in time,” the Joint Admission Board of the IITs wrote to the Ministry last month.
Sources said the IITs’ request was discussed at a meeting of all bureau heads in the Ministry recently, after which the proposal to allow the extension was moved. “The Ministry doesn’t need to go to the Cabinet for the deadline extension as it does not involve a cost overrun,” an official said.
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