Shifting agri faculty to Wadura from Shalimar draws flak

Moazum Mohammad

Srinagar: Teachers and students of SK University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir (SKAUST-K) have expressed displeasure over the decision to shift the faculty of agriculture to the varsity’s Wadura campus.
A notification signed by SKUAST-K registrar Prof Tasleem Ganai recently ordered that the Division of Genetics and Plant Breeding and the Division of Agronomy shall be shifted from the Shalimar campus to Wadura.
The decision drew flak from several academics who conveyed their protest to the vice-chancellor in a memorandum and demanded that the order shall be revoked.
“The basic fabric of the university is being disintegrated by shifting the faculty of agriculture. It has put the future of students and teachers at stake. We have called for a meeting of SKAUST scientists, teachers and non-teaching staff to discuss the issue,” said a professor on the condition of anonymity.
In fact, it was learnt that several students, especially females, have told the teachers that they were considering cancelling their admissions because they cannot travel 100km a day to and fro Wadura.
“From an ecological point of view, Wadura is not suitable for agricultural sciences. That area is best suited for horticulture. The shifting of the agricultural faculty would be simply a major loss and it will dilute the status of the university,” a group of teachers told Kashmir Reader.
Earlier, the VC had proposed shifting the faculty of forestry from Ganderbal to Wadura. But the government had red flagged the move after stiff opposition by the teachers and students.
This time around, however, officials said the VC has been trying hard to convince the government about the need for shifting the faculty of agriculture, a major branch in the varsity that has been running bachelors and post-graduate courses since its inception in the 1980s.
A month ago, vice-chancellor Dr Tej Partap Singh told Kashmir Reader that there was no proposal to shift any faculty.
“Some vested interests are trying to play up such things. Basically, people from Sopore don’t want to shift to Shalimar and similar is the case with people from Srinagar. I don’t know why it’s being manipulated as people don’t want to go there,” Dr Singh had said.
“As a professional, I suggested to the government that it should not set up new stations but they went ahead. Now it has come up and everything is ready now,” he had said.
Registrar Prof Ganai defended the decision to shift the entire faculty of agriculture to Wadura, saying, “The decision has been passed by the University Council. We want to consolidate the agriculture faculty at one place.”
He said the students need not worry as they can avail of hostel facility at Wadura.
“Those who oppose the decision are in a minority and such people are present everywhere,” he told Kashmir Reader.