Even after the approval accorded by the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the proposed five new government polytechnic colleges in five districts in the state have been awaiting clearance, mainly under the Forest Conservation Act, from central agencies for the past three years.

The state government is going slow on setting up the proposed polytechnic colleges as 20 private polytechnic colleges are facing a crisis with over 40 per cent of their 1,425 seats remaining vacant last year.

However, the occupancy in government colleges remains 100 per cent as these remain the first choice of students in the state, claim officials. There are already 30 polytechnic colleges, including 20 private, in the state. Though work on the construction of a polytechnic college at Paonta Sahib has started, the fate of the other four colleges hangs in the balance as these are awaiting clearance.

The proposed five government polytechnic colleges are to be set up at Kothi (Kullu), Poanta Sahib (Sirmaur), Barthi (Bilaspur), Udaipur (Lahaul-Spiti) and Kinnaur. The Central Government has allotted a one-time grant of Rs 12 crore for each college and the AICTE has already accorded its approval to these.

These colleges are being set up with 80 per cent grant from the Centre while 20 per cent expenses will be raised by the state. The state will have to meet the subsequent requirement of staff, workshops and equipment, sources said.

Director, Technical Education, Vijay Chanden said the government is waiting for the clearance and construction work will be started soon, he added that the tender for the Kothi college had been given and work on the Poanta Sahib college had started, while clearance for the Barthi college was awaited from Chandigarh. He further said that for the Udaipur and Kinnaur polytechnic colleges, forest clearance was awaited.

Technical Education Minister Narinder Bragta said enrolment in government polytechnics was cent per cent and the proposed polytechnic colleges were part of the government’s efforts to make Himachal a hub of technical education.