The agony of destruction unleashed by the September 2014
floods cannot be subsided even by the fresh coat of paint on the walls of Amar
Singh College. The lush green lawns with the tall poplar trees that were once
testimony to this institution's glorious past, now narrate their tale of
annihilation. The imprints of the catastrophic floods of 2014 are still visible
here, even though 10 months have elapsed.
College authorities estimate the loss caused by the flood to be Rs 16 crore approximately.
The flood left the college infrastructure extensively damaged. A total of 25 buildings including the heritage building built in 1905 suffered the damage caused by the flood waters.
As Dr Nasreen Malik, HOD English department put it, "The September floods devastated the panoramic view of the historical Amar Singh College. Besides damaging infrastructure, it has left trails of difficulties for the college authorities."
Prof Iffat Amin of Economics Department said, “We have tried hard to brace up, but unfortunately the infrastructure is not there to support us.”
The condition of the rooms required for practical experiments is no different. Dr Hamid Ullah of Geology Department said, “We have lost all antique specimens of the college museum. The college has been restored for normal functioning after floods, but only classroom lectures are available. The laboratories have been rendered dysfunctional after the floods,” Dr Hamid Ullah stated.
“The college laboratory has lost its richness due to the floods, and is yet to be restored,” said Prof Tanveer Salaam of Zoology Department. With the laboratories dysfunctional, the students – especially those of the science faculty – are the worst sufferers.
The college library, which was the source of quenching the thirst for knowledge of all students, particularly those from financially weak households, is also in shambles.
The library, which used to house a rich collection of old books as well as the new releases, is now facing dearth of even course-related material.
Masrat Ali, Chief Librarian of the college, said, “We have lost around 50,000 books including antique ones. I am worried for my students, as we now have only a handful of books available, which will not suffice their demand. I hope the government will soon release the required amount for the purchase of new books, so the students do not have to suffer.”
Echoing the view of most students, Badar Bashir, Secretary of Amar Singh College students body said, “What we have lost is inexpressible. The biggest jolt is that Bukhari Hall, which is our cultural centre, is still in disarray and renovation hasn’t yet started. I hope it is restored soon. The construction of our new auditorium was scheduled to be completed by August, but now it will be further delayed, ” Bashir added.
The question topmost in the minds of those associated with this prestigious institution is this: Will the college, which was ranked among the 10 best colleges in humanities of India as per Tribune Guide to Best Colleges, retain its place after such major loss of infrastructure?
Hopes of immediate financial assistance from the government are dim, as the government itself is facing financial crunch. Does that mean that Kashmir will allow its heritage college to lose its pride of place?
In the dark clouds of financial despair, the alumna of the college and the civil society hold the silver lining of hope for the revival of its future.
Harbaksh Singh, an alumnus of the college, has donated Rs nine lakh to the college authorities for revival of infrastructure. Zahoor Ahmed Chatt, Principal of College, said, “Our efforts are now to rejuvenate the college and make it operational in all its activities, so that it can regain its former glory.”
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