Three SAARC regional centres shut

Kathmandu, Jan 11 (IANS) The 30-year-old south Asian grouping Saarc has closed down three of its regional centres in line with a decision taken at its 18th summit meeting here in November, an official said on Monday.

The scrapped centres are the Saarc Information Centre in Kathmandu, Saarc Human Resource Development Centre in Islamabad and Saarc Documentation Centre in New Delhi.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Programming Committee decided at its November 21 meeting here last year to close down these regional centres as well as merge four others, bringing down the total number of such centres from 11 to five. The staff of these three centres were given the golden handshake, the official said

The move is aimed at ending duplication of work and reducing expenditure, Nepal’s ministry of foreign affairs had earlier said in a statement.

The mandate of the SIC here and the Delhi centre has been transferred to the Saarc secretariat in the Nepali capital.

A decision on the merger of Saarc Forestry Centre in Bhutan, Saarc Disaster Management Centre in New Delhi, Saarc Coastal Zone Management Centre in the Maldives and Saarc Meteorological Research Centre in Dhaka to set up the Saarc Environment and Disaster Management Centre was also taken. Its location is yet to be decided.

The Saarc Agriculture Centre in Dhaka, Saarc Tuberculosis Centre in Kathmandu, Saarc Energy Centre in Pakistan and Cultural Centre in Sri Lanka will continue to function.

The eight member states have already decided to shut the Human Resource Development Centre in Pakistan.

There is a proposal to upgrade the laboratory of the Saarc Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Centre in Bhaktapur in Nepal to a ‘supranational lab’.

Nepal has constructed a new building and is considering finalising voluntary contribution for the lab’s upgradatation, for which India and Bangladesh have offered financial assistance.

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