JK abandons GOI-funded academic programs

Proposed Research Centre For Disaster Management, Urban Planning Centre, Panchayati Raj Institute Casualties Of Official Neglect

MUDDASIR ALI

Srinagar, Feb 19: Though Jammu and Kashmir falls in seismic zone-V making it prone to high magnitude earthquakes, state government is sleeping over a Union Ministry of Home Affairs funded program to set up a hi-tech Disaster Management Center (DMC) here for carrying out research in the field of seismology.
 Not only this, a Union Ministry of Rural Development sponsored program for strengthening Panchayat Raj system in JK is upto similar fate, while Government of India subsidiary Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO), has asked JK to return allocated funds after the latter failed to utilize the same during the past five years to set up a research institute for urban development.
 The Government is sitting over, for the past more than two years, on MHA program to setup a hi-tech Disaster Management Center here for capacity building in disaster mitigation, and training of manpower. The Center was to be set up at Institute of Management Public Administration and Rural Development (IMPA) here.
 An official told Greater Kashmir that the MHA had approved the center at the IMPA in 2008 with three faculty positions. “It is a fully-funded program. Though the state received the funds, it is not filling up the already sanctioned positions and as a result the whole program has become victim of official apathy,” the official said.  The DMC which ought to be a separate center in the IMPA is still non-existent.
 Over the years the state government has been facing criticism for its failure to set up an effective Disaster Management body which could carry out research in the field of seismology and also alert the state administration in advance about weather changes especially during winter.
 Recently a US seismologist, Roger Bilham, warned that Kashmir is likely to be hit by disastrous earthquake of around magnitude nine on Richter scale though he had not specified the timeline for the imminent calamity. The study by Bilham who is professor of Geology at the University of Colorado US, states that the major quake is likely to trigger landslides that would dam the Jhelum River, which could lead to devastation “that could mean a death toll of 300,000 people.” 
 Kashmir has a history of earthquakes. In 2005 an earthquake of around 7.5 magnitude with epicenter in Muzaffarabad across LoC had hit Uri in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district causing large-scale devastation of property and life.
 Except for some study programs by the government in collaboration with the Kashmir University, it has not set up a full-fledged Disaster Management Body to prepare itself for the future planning for such natural disasters.
 In absence of the center the change in the weather especially during the winters catches government napping each time.
 “The proposed Center that was to be set up at IMPA was meant for studying earthquakes and natural phenomenon, formulates plans and train manpower for such changes,” sources said.

HUDCO PROGRAM SHELVED
 Another program funded by HUDCO for urban planning and development has met the same fate.
 Officials said the Corporation had five years back released Rs 5 lakh to the state government to set up an independent Urban Development Center for carrying out research in urban development in J&K. The centre was again to be set up at IMPA.
 “It is also fully funded program. Since state failed to set up the center, the HUDCO is now asking for return of the funds,” sources said.
 Pertinently, there is no urban planning/development training centre in the state resulting in unplanned growth of the twin capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu.

MORD PROGRAM IGNORED
 Sources said following the conduct of Panchayat polls in JK last year, Union Ministry for Rural Development had agreed to finance additional creation of posts in the state Institute of Rural Development at IMPA for successful implementation of the Panchayat Raj system.
 The Ministry, sources said, had agreed to support creation of 10 new faculty positions in the Rural Development wing in addition to existing positions.
 “Despite several reminders by the Ministry, the state government is not sending the proposal,” sources said.
 In addition, sources said the MoRD had released Rs 3.5 crore to the state in 2004 for setting up of a hostel in the IMPA campus here for the visiting experts from outside and faculty also.
 “Government’s failure to build the facility within a set period of one year has resulted in cost escalation up to Rs 9 crore. Now the Ministry has categorically refused to finance additional cost and the project has been almost shelved,” sources said. It was to be the 50-room double seated hostel.
 Greater Kashmir has already reported how the state government has made the IMPA almost defunct in absence of over 50 percent of faculty positions in the institute for past 20 years.

Lastupdate on : Sun, 19 Feb 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 19 Feb 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 20 Feb 2012 00:00:00 IST




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