Kashmir Floods: Government to decide students’ fate on Saturday

Girl students inside Women's College on Maulana Azad Road Srinagar
File Photo | PTI

SRINAGAR — The recent floods have dealt a heavy blow to Kashmir’s higher education sector with losses amounting to over Rs 100 crores and most colleges are 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 have also suffered structural damage during these floods, the minister said.

The laboratories, libraries and other infrastructure worth crores have been lost even as the government is still trying to assess the full damage.

Lone said that eight colleges have suffered extensive damage and the total loss to higher education in the 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 per cent of the damage has been inflicted in Kashmir division alone,” said Lone.

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“In Jammu, we have recorded just a few incidents of structural damages and all colleges are functional there unlike in Kashmir where the colleges are yet to become functional,” Lone said, adding that the department is trying hard to rehabilitate the students.

“We are working on various strategies to save the careers of thousands of our affected students,” said Lone. “Right now, wherever water has fully receded from colleges, we have undertaken a cleaning process. At some places, we are still trying to drain out water and clear the silt.”

The minister convened a high-level meeting on Saturday in which the Vice-Chancellors of Jammu and Kashmir University, Secretary of Higher Education, Controller of Examinations and Registrar from both universities would decide the fate of affected students.

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“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 in introducing a 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, will be forwarded to state cabinet for approval.”

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