The Lok Sabha Wednesday passed a bill to convert three Schools of Planning and Architecture into centres of excellence and enable them to confer degrees on students.The School of Planning and Architecture Bill, 2014, was passed by a voice vote.Its passage will benefit students of SPA Bhopal and Vijayawada who are still awaiting their degrees. These two institutes were set up in 2008-09. The third SPA is in Delhi.In order to confer degrees, an institute has to be made a deemed university by an act of parliament.The bill also proposes to set up a council for the SPAs similar to IITs and NITs to advise the central government on policy matters in the field of architecture and planning.
Replying to the debate on the bill, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani assured the house that the reservation policy would be applicable to these institutes."Our members have expressed concern whether the reservation policy is applicable to these institutions. Let me assure that yes, it is," she said.Irani said the government was engaging in conversations with nations like Britain and the US to highlight as to who were their best academicians to have a world class faculty in Indian institutes.Irani said that as in the case of IITs and NITs, at the end of the financial year, the annual report and audit of these institutes done by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) would be laid on the table of the house.
Earlier, participating in the debate before the bill was passed, Congress member from Assam Gaurav Gogoi attacked the BJP government over its alleged attempts to mix science with religion and mythology."We must promote scientific temper among people," he said.Gogoi said there was a lack of quality research in Indian institutions due to lack of support and that Indian researchers make a name for themselves abroad where they get adequate support.Trinamool Congress member Saugata Roy objected to the way bills were being brought in the house in haste and said members were not getting time to study them.He said these three institutes should be engaged in research so that they could contribute to the development of smart cities.Tathagata Satapathy of the Biju Janata Dal suggested that the bill be drafted in a way that the passouts from these institutes are mandatorily asked to work within the country for some time.Efforts should also be made to set these institutes comparatively free of government control, he added.