Maharashtra Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant on Saturday said there were plans to set up a university in the Konkan region as it was a long-pending demand of the people in the region. Currently colleges in Konkan’s Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts are affiliated to Mumbai University.

“There was a long pending demand of people from the Konkan that there should be a separate university in the Konkan region. For students studying in Sawantwadi in Konkan, Mumbai University is almost 650 kilometres away and it is difficult for them to travel that far for any work,” he said. Addressing a press conference, he said a committee had been set up for the purpose. Samant was in Savitribai Phule Pune University to hold meetings with education officials.

Queried on varsity level students’ polls, he said a segment was in favour while the other was not, adding that experts will be consulted by the state government to move ahead.

The previous BJP-led Maharashtra government had last year decided to revive student elections, which were banned since 1993, and fresh polls were supposed to be held in 11 universities and affiliated colleges. However, they were kept in abeyance due to the October Assembly polls.

Samant said “principally” everybody in the present government was of the opinion that the (previous government’s) decision of student elections was not appropriate and should be changed. He said a separate academy for professors will be set up in Pune.

Samant said the state government has decided to lift a stay on giving approvals to new libraries in the state. “Since 2012, no permission for new libraries have been given as there was a cabinet decision. We will lift the stay and start giving the permissions to new libraries,” he added.

Asked about a Congress leader’s statement seeking cancellation of appointment of “pro-RSS vice-chancellors”, Samant said it was not appropriate for him to comment as appointments of VCs are done by the governor. He said the focus would be on bettering the quality of education, building infrastructure and increasing the skills of teachers.