Officials of the Revenue Department and the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) in Andhra Pradesh cracked down on encroachment of government land, allegedly by Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management (GITAM), located in the coastal city’s Rushikonda area. The move by the revenue officials early on Saturday morning was aimed at retrieving government land that had been illegally occupied, they said.
Revenue and police officials outside the university campus
GITAM University is one of the largest private universities in Andhra Pradesh and has campuses not only in Visakhapatnam but also in Hyderabad and Bengaluru. The university offers over 100 programmes in both undergraduate and postgraduate levels in a wide range of subjects. The university was founded by noted educationalist MVVS Murthi, affiliated to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), who passed away in a road accident in 2018 in the United States of America.
According to revenue officials, based on an inquiry carried out, it was found that the university had encroached 40.51 acres of land in Vizag. Officials said that a compound wall and other structures were constructed on the encroached land and notices were served to the university earlier, adding that the management had tried to regularise the land and had also approached the court multiple times.
TDP Spokesperson Pattabhi Ram condemned the move and slammed the government, saying that instead of helping people at a time when the incessant rains have wreaked havoc, the government is indulging in vindictive politics. He said, “In the middle of the night, officials brought machinery and began demolition at GITAM University. During the day, they don’t do anything for the people and their welfare. Just as the darkness sets in, they begin their planning about whom to target, what ordinance to give, whose asset to grab etc.”
“GITAM is one of the most prestigious institutions in the country which is providing education to around 23,000 students out of which 13,000 are pursuing education at the Vizag campus of the university. It is unfortunate that such a prestigious organisation is being targeted.”
Minister for Tourism Muttamsetti Srinivas slammed the TDP leaders for their remarks on the incident and reiterated that the demolition was not vindictive towards the opposition party, as it was being claimed.
He said, “GITAM University isn’t a charity organisation. They charge exorbitant fees from the students without even following the rule of reservation. The government seized the encroached lands as per the stipulated guidelines, as the institute had occupied government lands.”
The Minister also questioned opposition leaders as to why the university was not regularised during the TDP regime. He said, “TDP is creating hurdles in the path of development. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is trying to strengthen government institutions, unlike former CM Chandrababu Naidu, who only worked to benefit private organisations. While the Chief Minister has been aiming to develop all 13 districts and all communities, Naidu’s development has only been confined to Amaravati and his own community.”