Flood cripples Kashmir’s higher education sector

Losses surpass Rs 100 crores; Govt to decide fate of students on Saturday

The recent floods have dealt a heavy blow to Kashmir’s higher education sector with losses amounting to over Rs 100 crores and most of colleges still non-functional.

The floods have hit hard particularly in Srinagar and Islamabad (Anantnag). “Barring Nawakadal Women’s College, all of our colleges in Srinagar have been rendered non-functional,” said Muhammad Akbar Lone, minister for higher education. “Similarly in South Kashmir, Bijbehara college, Anantnag boys and Anantnag girls colleges have been severely affected by the floods.”
Some of the worst affected colleges include Amar Singh college, S P College, Women’s College M A Road, Gandhi College and Bemina College.
Other colleges like Islamia College of Science and Commerce at Hawal has also suffered structural damage during these floods, the minister said. The laboratories, libraries and other infrastructure worth crores has been loss even as government is still trying to assess full damage.
Lone said that eight colleges have suffered extensive damage and total loss to higher education in entire state has surpassed Rs 100 crores.
“According to our preliminary assessment the total loss to our colleges and associated infrastructure is well above Rs 100 crores and 90 percent of the damage has been inflicted in Kashmir division alone,” said Lone.
“In Jammu we have recorded just few incidents of structural damages and all colleges are functional there unlike in Kashmir where the colleges are yet to become functional.”
Lone said that the department is trying hard to rehabilitate the students. “We are working on various strategies to save the career of thousands of our affected students,” said Lone. “Right now wherever water has fully receded from colleges we have undertaken cleaning process. At some places we are still trying to drain out water and clear the silt.”
The minister has convened a high level meeting on Saturday in which Vice-Chancellors of Jammu and Kashmir University, secretary higher education, controller examinations and registrar from both universities would decide the fate of affected students.
“Right now we are trying to restore the colleges as soon as possible but going by the magnitude of the situation it will take time, so we would be discussing the ways to deal with the situation,” said Lone. “Whether students need to be given mass promotion or their syllabus be reduced or exams be deferred, all options would be discussed during the October 4 meeting.”
The government has shown keen interest to introduce semester system in the colleges in Kashmir. “The semester sessions are already going on in Jammu and if all goes well we may introduce the same in Kashmir too,” said Lone. “Whatever decision we will take during the Saturday meeting would be forwarded to state cabinet for approval.”

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