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Fund crunch in Kashmir agri-varsity

By Shujaat Bukhari

SRINAGAR, SEPT. 9. At a time when the death anniversary of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah is observed, the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) has a sad story to tell. The University named after him has completed 22 years but is facing a severe financial crisis unbecoming of an institute of excellence in the field of agricultural sciences.

It was a coincidence that the SKUAST Vice-Chancellor, Anwar Alam, was listing a plethora of difficulties the University was facing when hundreds of people were paying tributes to Sheikh Abdullah on the other side of Dal Lake where he lies buried. Though the Vice-Chancellor highlighted the achievements of the University in a number of fields, he said that nothing was being done to get the premier Institute out of the crisis. "Its impact is still that of a college as far as infrastructure is concerned", he added.

Against an immediate need of Rs 50 crores, the University has a meagre grant of Rs 11 crores. "We immediately need Rs 50 crores to remove operational constraints", he told a news conference, adding that this was necessary to pursue the mandate of development and research in Agriculture. Prof Alam said that he had been running from pillar to post to impress upon the authorities to extend help to the University.

The University was started with an intake capacity of 40 students in 1982 and there is no movement forward.

Not even 10 per cent of the project formulated for the University has been implemented. "In order to play its role the University needs certain infrastructure to be developed", he said. Prof Alam avoided blaming any particular organization or person for scarcity of funds.

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