Land to ISB raises hackles in Punjab

Chandigarh, Aug 14 (IANS) The allotment of 70 acres of prime land at a token amount of Re.1 for a 99-year lease to leading management institute Indian School of Business (ISB) by the Punjab government at Mohali town has raised the hackles of other institutions.

The Punjab Unaided Technical Institution Association (PUTIA), which comprises several private management, engineering and other professional institutions Saturday said the Punjab government should not adopt a policy of subsidising institutions from outside the state while making things tougher for Punjab’s own institutions.

The foundation stone of the ISB, one of the leading business schools in the world, was laid in Mohali this week. It would be ISB’s second campus outside Hyderabad and is expected to be completed by February 2012.

These corporate institutions include Max India institute of Healthcare Management, Bharti Institute of Public Policy, and BML Munjal Hero Honda Institute of Manufacturing Excellence. Each has pooled in Rs.50 crore for the ISB-Mohali campus.

The Punjab government allotted 70 acres of prime land to the ISB for a token amount of Re.1 for a 99-year lease. The land was acquired at Rs.6.3 million (Rs.63 lakh) per acre by the state government. The present market rate for the land is Rs.15 mn (Rs.1.5 crore) per acre.

‘On the same day when the ISB was given land, the draft of The Punjab (Institutions and other Buildings) Tax Act, 2010 has also been approved by the cabinet to levy property tax on the institutions. The intention of the government is crystal clear. The financial loss occurring on subsidising the entry of outsiders by giving free land of hundreds of crores of rupees will be met from the pockets of the state institutions,’ J.S. Dhaliwal, president of PUTIA, said after a meeting of the professional institutions.

PUTIA members said while the Punjab government’s high-level committee on resource mobilisation, comprising Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Industries and Commerce Minister Manoranjan Kalia, were recommending generation of more resources and funds, the subsidised land for ISB was causing confusion.

They also objected to the fact that while ISB management will decide their fee structure, other institutions are bound by Punjab government rules on fee fixation.

‘The government is much interested in pleasing the outsiders at the cost of state institutions. Admissions, student intake, fee, all will be decided by the ISB promoters. While in Punjab, fee fixation is a state subject,’ Dhaliwal added.

While the Punjab government has fixed the fee for management courses at Rs.125,000, the ISB charges between Rs.3-3.5 mn (Rs.30-35 lakh) per student.

PUTIA members pointed out at the meeting that unlike ISB, other educational institutions were required to procure land at commercial rates and were not given any financial assistance by the government.

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