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Schools of Planning and Architecture Bill gets Parliament nod

A Bill for converting three Schools of Planning and Architecture (SPAs) into centres of excellence was passed by Parliament on Wednesday, with the government expressing confidence that such schools will help in setting up of smart cities.

The government also assured members that the reservation policy will be put in place and there will be international tie-ups and global experts to impart world class education.

The School of Planning and Architecture Bill 2014 was passed in the Rajya Sabha today. The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 3.

Winding up discussion on the bill, HRD Minister Smriti Irani assured the House that the reservation policy with regard to admission of students and faculty recruitment will “completely be followed” in SPAs similar to what is being done in IITs, NITs and IIMs.

Currently, the SPAs are located in Delhi, Bhopal and Vijayawada. The bill aims to empower these institutes to grant degrees to students. That apart, it also has provision to set up a council, which can recommend creation of new SPAs.

Responding to an amendment moved by a TMC member Kanwarr Deep Singh who sought changes in the bill for setting up of a SPA in Kolkata, the minister said, “There is a provision for setting up of a council. The council can recommend opening of new SPAs to the government.”

Satisfied by the minister’s reply, the TMC leader withdrew the amendment and the bill was passed.

Noting that the SPAs can contribute in setting up “Smart Cities” in India, Irani said, “Smart cities are not misnomer or fallacy but they are going to be a reality as the government is pursuing to set up such cities seriously. SPAs can contribute to the development of Smart Cities.” On a member’s suggestion to have a visitor other than ‘President of India’ to SPAs and other central universities, the Minister said it cannot be done.

“President Pranab Mukherjee has taken a lot of measures to impart and improve education in the country. If we replace, it gives an impression that we don’t appreciate his leadership,” she said.

The Minister also assured members that their suggestion to incorporate subjects related to disabled-friendly buildings, restoration and conservation of historical structures, green buildings among others are already part of the syllabus of SPAs.

Shantaram Naik (Cong) said that in spite of her educational qualifications being “challenged”, Irani had done well but raised questions on her visit to an astrologer.

“I am pained to see you going to an astrologer,” he said, adding that it challenges entire scientific temperament as enshrined in the Constitution.

“(As a Minister) you don’t have a private life. I am pained, you have visited an astrologer, what are you going to tell the students. To go to a fortune teller? The message you have given does not commensurate with the role you have been given,” Naik said.

Satyanarayan Jatiya, who was in the Chair, intervened saying, “Don’t talk like this.”

To this, Naik replied that the Chair can give a ruling if he was making a wrong statement.

Deputy leader of Congress in the House, Anand Sharma stood up and said the Chair cannot say this as it is not the tradition of the House. Jatiya said it would be better if the member came to the technical issue.

He asked Naik not to discuss what had happened outside the House after which he spoke about his views on the bill.

Among other things, he suggested that authorities of schools under the Act should try to see heritage concept grows in India. Supporting the legislation, C P Thakur (BJP) said these institutes will be assets to the whole country as they are based in Delhi in north India,

Bhopal in central and Vijaywada in south India. Such institutions, he said, would contribute towards the Smart Cities project.

He also said that in the past the country was quite advanced in the aspect of learning with ‘Lakshagriha’ mentioned during the times of Kauravas and Pandavas which nobody could differentiate whether it was a normal house or made of lac. Similarly, during the Mughal period, the country was quite advanced in this realm, he said.

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