SAARC centres to be slashed

Anil Giri says number of SAARC regional centres will be slashed

Hindu women celebrate the Teej festival in Kathmandu, Nepal
Hindu women celebrate the Teej festival in Kathmandu, Nepal

SAARC member states have agreed to bring down the number of the association’s regional centres from 11 to five in order to end the duplication of work and to reduce expenditure. A meeting of the SAARC Programming Committee that concluded in Kathmandu on Monday has proposed to bring down the number of the centres, a diplomat posted in the SAARC Secretariat said.

The meeting has decided to merge the SAARC Information Centre located in Kathmandu and SAARC Documentation Centre stationed in New Delhi and keep it within the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu.

Similarly, the SAARC Meteorological Research Centre established in 1995 in Dhaka, the SAARC Natural Disaster Management Centre set up in New Delhi in 2006, the Coastal Zone Management Centre in the Maldives and the SAARC Forestry Centre established in Bhutan in 2009 will be merged under a new set-up called SAARC Environment and Disaster Management Centre. However, the location of this new centre has not been dcided yet.

The meeting also proposed to permanently shut down the SAARC Human Resources Development Centre in Pakistan, according to the diplomat.

Following the decision, the SAARC Agriculture Centre in Dhaka established in 1988, the SAARC Tuberculosis Centre in Kathmandu established in 1982, the SAARC Energy Centre in Pakistan established 2006), and the SAARC Cultural Centre in Sri Lanka established in 2009 will remain intact.

The formal decision to reduce the centres will be taken at the 18th SAARC Summit to be held in Kathmandu in November, said officials at the SAARC Secretariat.

The meeting also decided to enhance cooperation and dialogue with SAARC observer nations which are nine in number. SAARC is the only regional organisation whose number of observer nations is more than the member countries.

SAARC has eight member states while nine nations have observer status in the regional grouping.

The meeting also endorsed an interactive guideline between the SAARC and observer nations.