The “East campus” of the Delhi University’s School of Open Learning (SOL) in Tahirpur, opposite “Purvi Dilli Khel Parisar”, is just a piece of abandoned land without even a signboard. Stray animals and garbage can be found in the land whose boundary wall serves as an open urinal for men passing by.
Locals said that the boundary wall on the three sides of the abandoned plot was built a few years ago by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). A tea-stall owner near the SOL’s so-called “East Campus” said, “We only know that the land belongs to the DDA since there has never been any signboard to declare otherwise. Right now, the plot is in a slightly better shape as earlier it was covered with tall wild grass, garbage and debris. We have never seen any construction happening here.”
A DDA official of the East Zone, requesting anonymity, said, “The land was transferred by the DDA some years back, but its possession hasn’t been claimed yet. The DDA still has to look after the land.” Right behind the SOL’s “East Campus”, the DDA is now constructing a park with a water tank for providing local people with a water body where they can celebrate festivals like Chhat puja.
Half acre of land was sold to the SOL by the DDA at a throwaway price of Re 1 under the “educational land” category in 2004-05 and the land has remained undeveloped till date. From time to time, the SOL appoints a deputy director for its “East Campus”, though there is not even an office that can represent the “East Campus”. All the former deputy directors The Sunday Guardian talked to said that they kept trying to start the development of the “East Campus”, but did not succeed due to “technical issues”.
The North and South are the only two operational campuses of SOL. But keeping in view the expanding needs of the SOL, an East Delhi campus had been suggested. The SOL, however, gave the responsibility to develop the new campus to the Delhi University.
Right behind the SOL’s “East Campus”, the DDA is constructing a park with a water tank for providing locals with a water body where they can celebrate festivals like Chhat puja.
Dr Tapan Biswal, former deputy director of “East Campus”, SOL and current deputy director of South campus, SOL, said, “About 30% of the students in SOL come from East Delhi which is why an East Campus was considered perfect for expanding the SOL’s outreach. However, the only development that we could achieve was to hire an architect and get a campus map plan out. There are a number of approvals required from various local authorities to start the construction of the campus, but such approvals have not materialized since the university never took the initiative to do so.”
Dr Biswal added, “When it was realised that the university doesn’t seem interested in SOL’s expansion, a proposal was suggested to let SOL develop the East Campus instead of the university. However, that, too, has not been allowed till date. The truth is that the DU is sitting on SOL’s East Campus files. The reasons for not starting the work are known only to them.”
N.K. Aggarwal, who held the post of deputy director “East Campus”, SOL, for five years between 2008-12, said, “We made repeated attempts to reach the vice-chancellor of the university and SOL’s top management, but none of our pleas were heard. The SOL has always been neglected by the university. The SOL cannot start the construction on the land unless DU permits it. Therefore, the one with the authority to start construction work on the ground is DU.”
The current deputy director of “East Campus”, K.L. Dhaiyya, who was appointed to the post recently, said, “We have been writing to the university for the past 6-7 months for starting to develop the East Campus, but there has been no reply. Since the SOL is part of the Delhi University, it was deemed fit to let the university develop the campus. I can’t say much on the subject since I am not authorized, but a solution can be to allow SOL develop the East Campus with its own funds.”
Prof Yogesh Tyagi, who was appointed Delhi University’s new Vice-Chancellor in February this year, said: “Please share the details with me, I’ll look into the matter and get back to you.”