It lies at the heart of the Maoist badlands in Chhattisgarh but is now set to acquire the tag of Education City with the creation of a 150-acre campus housing 15 schools and colleges that will cater to some 5,000 students from poor and tribal families. Even more remarkably, the campus at Dantewada will be run on solar power.
“Like other innovations, Education City is also a child of a need — the need for educated, skilled, trained and dedicated pool of citizenry which can not only understand the area’s needs but also fill the gap between supply and availability of skilled workforce,” Omprakash Choudhary, the district magistrate of Dantewada who conceived the project, said.
‘Education City’ is expected to be fully operational in 18 months. Some institutes have already opened.
What then will Education City encompass? There will be an Industrial Training Institute for 100 students, a residential school for girls with a hostel for 500, Kasturba Ashram with a hostel for 100 and Astha Gurukul with a hostel for 800. There will also be a tribal ashram and a school for 50, a residential school for boys, a model school and a security guard training institute, each with hostels for 500m a scouts and guides training Institute, a research institute for tribal children, a playground and a helipad.
Money for the project is coming from various government schemes such as the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds of the National Mineral Development Corporation, Essar and other companies.
Not for nothing is Chhattisgarh CMRaman Singh upbeat about the project. “Education City will not only cater to the educational needs of the vast tribal populace inhabiting Bastar, worst-hit by left-wing extremism, but also usher in an era of peace and prosperity,” Raman Singh said. Dantewada is one of the least literate districts (30.1 per cent) of the country.
Since Dantewada is a power deficit area, each block in the Education City will be separately powered with solar photo voltaic cell. The individual break-ups have not been given but as per officials of CREDA, which sells solar power equipment, each block will have `60-lakh solar power set up.
The total cost of Education City is pegged at `100 crore, to be funded under various schemes of the state government and CSR funds of NMDC and Essar. It would be spread across 150 acres and will comprise 14-15 institutes.
Each institute will have a separate solar system, academic building, playground, garden, hostel and other infrastructure facilities.