New Delhi, Aug 19 (PTI) A proposal to merge the Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT) with the Central University of Tamil Nadu at Tiruvarur was considered though no decision was finalised, government think tank NITI Aayog has said.Also Read - Tamil Nadu Schools Reopening: Physical Classes to Resume For Kindergarten, Playschool Students From November 1

Reports about the Centre’s move to merge the CICT in Chennai with the CUT had in July triggered strong opposition in Tamil Nadu, including the state government taking a firm stand against it. Also Read - Video: Sasikala Visits Jayalalithaa's Memorial For First Time Since Jail Release

The detractors had said the move would reduce the autonomous institute of higher research to just another department with limited functional flexibility. Also Read - Tamil Nadu Steps up Covid Screening of Passengers Arriving From Kerala During Festival Holidays

Later, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar had denied the reports and said in the Rajya Sabha that “the CICT’s status will not be disturbed”.

The NITI Aayog’s Governance and Research Vertical, replying to an RTI petition, said the proposal was considered though no decision was finalised.

When asked about the reason for merging the CICT and the CUT, NITI Aayog said the committee for review of autonomous bodies was holding consultation/meetings with respective ministries/ departments.

“No report has been finalised so far,” the government think tank said.

It also shared its office order dated January 11, 2017 which said the Union finance secretary based on suggestions from the Expenditure Management Commission had approached the NITI Aayog to undertake an in-depth review of autonomous bodies and recommend alternatives such as corporatisation, merger, disengagement by government or closure.

“The CICT’s autonomy is of utmost importance, therefore, we raised the issue in Parliament,” said Rajya Sabha MP and CPI leader D Raja to whose question Javdekar had replied.

A senior academician in the government, who wished to remain anonymous, said the purpose of autonomous status for any institution was functional efficiency.

“Under the MHRD, there are so many institutions which are doing the same work without coordination, resulting in duplication of work and wastage of financial resources. This is why the government is reviewing such bodies. But the CICT is a different case and it will not be disturbed,” he said.

Functioning under the MHRD, the CICT is focused on classical Tamil research. Set up in 2006 as the Centre for Excellence of Classical Tamil, after Tamil was accorded classical language status in 2004, it was functioning from the Central Institute of Indian Languages campus in Mysuru.

In 2008, with the efforts of the DMK president and then chief minister M Karunanidhi it was shifted to Chennai and renamed as the Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT). He was its first chairman.

“Autonomous status for the CICT will reduce procedures, red tapism and the body can concentrate on specifc works and seek funds easily as and when required depending on projects,” the academician said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.