Kolkata, Dec 6: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday announced a grant of Rs.950 million for the Visva Bharati University at Santiniketan in West Bengal.Manmohan Singh said a high-level committee, under the chairmanship of state Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, had also been appointed to promote the university as an international centre of academic excellence.
'I am happy to announce today (Saturday) that an amount of Rs.95 crore (Rs.950 million) has been sanctioned for implementing the initial plan prepared by Visva Bharati in pursuance of the recommendations of the committee,' Manmohan Singh said during the convocation held for the 2005 and 2006 batches of the university, of which he is the chancellor.
The prime minister said the University Grants Commission (UGC) had earlier sanctioned generous grants for the development of Visva Bharati and for expanding the facilities in its Santiniketan campus, about 220 km far from Kolkata. 'There is, therefore, no dearth of resources available now to the university and I would urge all of you to take full advantage of this,' Singh said in his address.
'Also, as a follow-up of the recommendations of the committee, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has completed the conservation work in the heritage buildings in the Ashram and will now restore the four buildings in the Uttarayana complex within the current financial year.
'A committee has been set up in August 2008 to advise on restoration of art works and other building related issues in Visva Bharati. All these initiatives will help the university to excel further,' he a said, adding that 'to come to Santiniketan is to come on a pilgrimage'.
Manmohan Singh, who came to West Bengal on a two-day trip, arrived at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) airport here Saturday morning and then headed off for Santiniketan. Manmohan Singh will fly back to Kolkata in the evening and spend the night at Raj Bhavan.
On Sunday morning, the prime minister will again fly off in a helicopter to Malda district. He is slated to visit late Congress leader A.B.A. Ghani Khan Choudhury's residence at Kotwali in Malda. After this, the prime minister will go to Purnea, from where he will leave for New Delhi.