Land allotted at Re 1 per-year-per-kanal, but Centre fails to fund NIFT in Kashmir

While few days of strike in Jammu forced the Government of India to establish ‘AIIMS-like facilities’ in the winter capital of J&K too, it has failed to allocate funds to the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) set-up in the Valley six years back.

Land allotted at Re 1 per-year-per-kanal, Centre fails to fund NIFT in KashmirThe GOI sanctioned the NIFT in Kashmir in 2009 at an estimated cost of Rs 188 crore. Of this, 90 percent was to be paid by the Centre and the rest 10 percent by the State.

The state government, according to documents, was further asked to allocate land for the project which was subsequently identified at the Industrial Estate Ompora and handed over to the Union Ministry of Textiles on lease for 90 years at the annual rent of Rs 1 per year.

“….the allotment of an additional eighty kanal land at Industrial Estate Ompora Budgam on the same terms and conditions is approved by the Cabinet,” reads the cabinet decision No. 122/07/2010 dated 29-04-2010.

The NIFT, a fashion institute in India, was set up in 1986 under the aegis of the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.

As of now, the NIFT campus in the Valley is nowhere in sight. It is however operating from a temporary location provided by J&K SIDCO at Rangreth Industrial Estate.

“Unfortunately, the institute has failed to attract students due to lack of faculty and other facilities,” said Managing Director SIDCO, Kifayat Rizvi.

He said the SIDCO has already taken up the matter with NIFT authorities to make the institute functional at Ompora.

While there is a hue and cry over establishment of institutions like IIT, IIM, IIMC and AIIMS in J&K, the fate of NIFT continues to be uncertain, local entrepreneurs opine. “Today, a few students there are taught at NIFT by a counselor appointed on contractual basis. There is no permanent faculty,” said an entrepreneur.

Director NIFT refused to comment on the issue. “I have recently taken over as Director and NIFT Kashmir is an additional charge assigned to me. So I cannot provide you the details,” he said.

The establishment of NIFT campus in Kashmir was a demand of local entrepreneurs. “We thought it would be a boon in the Valley as students trained in the institute could contribute in introducing new designs and technology in sectors like handicrafts etc,” said a group of entrepreneurs.

However their hopes were dashed by the Centre’s alleged laidback approach.

President Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muhammad Ashraf Mir slammed the “discriminative approach” of the Government of India “towards Kashmir.”

“It is height of insensitivity that GOI has failed to establish the institute (NIFT) in Kashmir for the past six years back,” he said.

“We are not against any region. But in Jammu, few days of strike forced the Centre to sanction AIIMS-like facilities there. But NIFT in the Valley awaits funds,” he said.

According to a letter addressed to the PMO, the Union Textile Ministry has agreed in principle to bear the cost of infrastructure and also informed that a special reservation of 35 percent in seat allocation for JK students has also been accepted. But the Ministry has failed to keep its word.

Headquartered in New Delhi, the NIFT has centers at Mumbai, Kolkata, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Raebareli, Patna, Shillong, Bhopal, Kannur, Bhubaneswar and Jodhpur where it offers four-year bachelors and two-year masters programmes in Design, Management and Technology.

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