New buildings inaugurated at Kamand campus, 12 March

The new buildings in the Kamand campus of Indian institute of Technology Mandi (IIT Mandi) were formally inaugurated by the Hon'ble Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr. M. M. PallamRaju, on 9th March, 2013. Shri.Virbhadra Singh, Hon’ble Chief Minister, Himachal Pradesh presided over the function. Other dignitaries gracing the occasion included: Shri M. Natarajan, Padma Shree and Chairman, Board of Governors of IIT Mandi; Shri. Kaul Singh Thakur, Hon’ble Minister for Health & Family Welfare, and Shri. Anil Sharma, Hon’ble Minister for Rural Development, Panchyati Raj & Veterinary, Himachal Pradesh.

As part of the ceremony, Dr.PallamRaju inaugurated the newly constructed “Advanced Materials Research Centre”. This building will house labs and sophisticated instruments worth about Rs. 20 crores for designing and studying novel materials. Researchers will investigate the basic structure of materials, and develop novel materials for electrical, electronics, biological, and other applications. It will be used by about 40 postdocs and PhD scholars led by an inter-disciplinary team of 15 faculty, including two Distinguished Visiting Professors: Prof. K.E. Gonsalves from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, and Prof. Subrata Ray, formerly with IIT-Roorkee.

      Kamand campus
      Traditional lamp being lighted by the Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr. M. M. Pallam Raju
      and other dignitaries during the inauguration function at Kamand campus

In addition, the Chief Minister inaugurated the “Prashar Hostel” building, a newly constructed student hostel at Kamand. The hostel buildings, patterned after the Himachal village architecture, have a number of architectural features to make them a home away from home for the students. The buildings have insulated double walls and roofs, and double-glazed windows. This is designed to protect the students from the heat of summer and the chilling cold of the Kamand winters.

Also, as part of the day’s celebrations, Dr. PallamRaju gave a valedictory address to the India-UK Advanced Technology Centre (IU-ATC) workshop being held at the Kamand Campus. IU-ATC is the largest India-UK ICT research collaboration, which employs 200 scientists in both countries. The workshop brought scientists from India and UK in a two day event to discuss progress on the project that focuses on advanced telecommunication networks and multimedia services.

IIT Mandi has made great strides since its start at IIT Roorkee on 27th July, 2009. After shifting to a transit campus in Mandi in mid-2010, development of the Kamand campus was taken up at high priority. The 530-acre campus is located on the bank of the Uhl River at Kamand, 16 km from Mandi. With the inauguration of its new campus, the Institute has attained the distinction of being the first among the new IITs to have full residential and academic facility on its permanent campus. This remarkable feat was due to the hard work put in by the faculty, staff and students. The Government of Himachal and the people of Mandi have provided all support. The CPWD put in extraordinary efforts to get the work completed despite the difficult terrain and vagaries of weather. The building design is done by M/s BDP and the major construction by M/s Ahluwalia Contracts. Other works are handled by several local contractors.

IIT Mandi’s move into its new campus has progressed at a rapid pace. In April, 2012, IIT Mandi broke ground for 11 new buildings in its South Campus. These buildings with a floor area of 10,000 square meters comprise of residential and academic blocks. During 2012, a number of renovated Animal Husbandry buildings, some prefab buildings, and two brand new permanent buildings were completed and put to use at Kamand. In fact, in March, 2012, a Mechanical Workshop started functioning in a renovated hay store. In May 2012, IIT Mandi commissioned its first sophisticated instrument, a powder X-ray diffractometer (XRD) worth Rs. 1.75 crores, in the renovated Stable Complex.

In June 2012, Professor Timothy A. Gonsalves, Director, IIT Mandi, was the first to shift with his wife and dog Rusty to his newly-constructed residence on the Kamand campus. A few MS and PhD students shifted with him. On 23rd September 2012, the new Dining Hall was inaugurated and the 108 students of the 2nd year B. Tech. batch occupied their hostels. By the end of 2013, IIT Mandi expects to have 600 students, 70 faculty and more than 100 staff members in its fully residential campus at Kamand.

IIT Mandi’s new campus has seen the renovation and reshaping of a previously existing stable of the Animal Husbandry Department at Kamand. The stable now houses a PC Lab, Physics and Chemistry Labs, and a 120-seat Electronic Classroom connected to the National Knowledge Network (NKN). The NKN allows IIT Mandi to enhance their academic efforts by connecting to other IITs for distance education through virtual classrooms. In the initial stages, for rapid construction purposes, IIT Mandi has chosen to use low-cost eco-friendly prefab buildings made of bamboo materials.

Currently, the facilities on the new campus include a Mechanical Engineering Workshop, Computer Lab, Conference room, NKN classrooms, medical unit with ambulance, newly-constructed dining hall, provision and stationery stores, PNB branch with ATM, SBI ATM, administrative office, engineering office, and faculty and staff quarters. The Kamand campus has a number of sports facilities for IIT students that include volleyball, badminton, table tennis, cycling, hiking, and trekking. The new campus has hosted several important national meetings held at IIT Mandi. It iscurrently hosting its first international workshop with 30 participants from UK and 70 from India.

The construction in the North Campus will start soon. The construction of 1,15,000sqm at a cost of about Rs. 500 crores is planned to be completed by 2015. The campus will then accommodate over 1,600 students and 160 faculty, sufficient for the growth of the Institute up to 2018.

The coming of an IIT to Himachal can be seen as a turning point for Himachal and J&K. IIT Mandi is expected to give this Himalayan region a world-renowned centre for learning, research and innovation, a source of technology solutions for the unique problems of the Himalayan region, an institution that will nurture the future engineers, scientists and scholars who will take India to global leadership in the 21st century.