At a time when property issues lead to conflicts within family members, six families from Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s village are gifting 12 acres of their land to the Mumbai University (MU) to start a model college. The residents of Ambadave village in Mandangad taluka (Ratnagiri) read about the government’s plan to start a model college in their area in a newspaper following which they hired a cab the next day and approached MU officials.
“They are giving us their land for free. The process of land transfer is under way,” Kumar Khaire, registrar of the university, told DNA. As a goodwill gesture, MU will offer jobs to at least one member of the six families. The cost of land in Ambadave village — situated nearly 200km from Mumbai and 178km from Ratnagiri district headquarters — is Rs2 lakh per acre.
The villagers who believe their duty of serving the nation supercedes everything else belong to the same family tree as Dr Ambedkar — the man who gave India its Constitution which was formally adopted on January 26, 1950.
In the hope that the model college will provide education to children from nearby villages, the villagers are donating land which is also their source of livelihood. “We grow paddy here. Hapoos (mango) and cashew-nut trees also give good revenue. We will lose a substantial amount of our earnings by gifting the land, but we are happy to do something for the nation,” said Mahendra Sakpal, 46, whose family is giving away three acres of land.
Ironically, the village of Dr Ambedkar — who campaigned aggressively in favour of education — has just one school with classes up to standard X. Those who wish to pursue further studies have to travel 18km every day.
Sudarshan Sakpal, 42, who took the initiative in approaching the university, admits this strains them physically, mentally and economically. “We hope that youngsters from over 100 villages of this taluka can get good education because of the model college,” said Sakpal who pledged one acre of land.
The college will be set up with a Rs8 crore-grant (Rs5.5 crore from the state and the remaining from the University Grants Commission). It will offer professional courses such as BMM, BMS, BSc (IT), BSc (Hospitality), B Lib, etc.
The university has already started a model college in Ambadave in September 2012 which offers the BMS course. It is being run from a private building which is given free to MU.
“MU is offering affordable professional education closer to my home. I am an open category student and spend only Rs3,500 a year to study BMS whereas private colleges elsewhere charge 10-20 times more,” said Mujasar Munir Mungaruskar, one of the 16 students of the first batch.
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