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Bill passed to undo Cotton mess

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  14 Aug 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Cotton College State University Act was ‘wrong’; amendment passed to keep Cotton College separate and give it back its land and assets; Cotton University to function out of college campus until its own infrastructure is ready

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, Aug 13: Four years after ecting the Cotton College State University Act, the Assam government has realized that the legislation was "wrong", bringing now an amendment at the Assembly to rectify it.

This is the second amendment brought in the Act that had come into force on November 1, 2011.

According to the amendment brought today, the existing property, land, building and all liquid assets - that were earlier transferred to the Cotton College State University - will remain with Cotton College "as a constituent college of the university."

In the previous amendment, brought about in 2012, the character of the Cotton College State University was changed from affiliating university to unitary university. A unitary university is usually localised in a single centre, in which the whole of the teaching is conducted by teachers appointed by or under the control of the university.

Bringing the amendment at the Assembly today, Education minister Sarat Barkotoky said after the land and property of Cotton College was transferred to the university, hindrances had cropped up to utilize various funds. "It had also posed difficulties in receipt of various funds and in getting and sustaining accreditation," he said, justifying the second amendment.

The minister said that Cotton College State University and Cotton College will be separate entities. They will have separate campuses.

"I must admit the origil Act was wrong," the minister admitted.

The AGP, however, opposed the amendment brought in the house today. "The government is repeating its mistake. It should first hold extensive discussions with all stakeholders before bringing the amendment and not hurry through like this," the AGP legislators, who abstained from the House during passing of the bill in protest, said.

Minister Sarat Barkotoky, however, sought to justify the amendment bill, saying, "If you don't pass the amendment, the college is poised to lose its earlier glory. The college is now functioning like a venture institution. It does not even have a piece of land of its own. The tiol Assessment and Accreditation Council (AC) has said it will not come to assess the college this time. The UGC has sanctioned Rs 2 crore for the college, but the college is uble to spend it."

The Education minister said that till the infrastructure of Cotton College State University is complete, it will function from the Cotton College campus.

"For the university, we have allotted a plot of 141 bighas at Xontola village in Kamrup district. We have also given another plot of 15 bighas in the city - which origilly belonged to Cotton College - to the university," Barkotoky added.

Last month, Cotton College was among 19 institutions in the country granted heritage status by UGC.

Cotton College was declared open on May 27, 1901 by Sir Henry Stedman Cotton, the then Chief Commissioner of the erstwhile British province of Assam. The college was started with five professors, which included Frederick William Sudmerson, its first principal, and 39 students.

Cotton College was the centre of the freedom movement and the literary and cultural movements of the State to build the identity of Assam as a distinct integral component of India.

Once a premier seat of higher learning in Northeast India, the college, critics say, has faced stiff competition from other private and government institutions, which, coupled with government apathy, resulted in erosion of its old glory.

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