PESHAWAR, Nov 10: The government has abandoned its plan to set up engineering university’s main campus at Jalozai, because it was an expensive project of Rs3 billion, a senior official said.
The NWFP University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar, located in a few blocks inside the old university campus, does not cater to the needs of students. The NWFP government had decided to build a new campus at Jalozai near Nowshera.
Arguably, Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec), approved the project some three years back and 402 acres of land was purchased at Jalozai. Despite spending Rs40.35 million on the project, the government had stopped further work on it.
The UET administration believed that financially the Jalozai project was not viable and set up three campuses in Comprehensive High School Bannu, Scrap Colony Mardan and Government College No-II, Abbottabad.
The UET vice-chancellor air-vice marshal Sardar Khan said: “Cost-wise, Jalozai project was unbelievable. Why should government pump in billions of rupees in a single campus.”
He said that it was best option, at present for them, to set up small campuses.
Some senior engineers, teaching staff, at the UET termed the cancellation of Jalozai campus “a dacoity upon the rights of the province,” saying that the university administration had adopted a short-sighted approach by scraping such a giant project.
A teacher said that the new campuses had been opened on inappropriate sites, without getting prior approval from the academic council and the chancellor had been kept in the dark about the entire project.
The UET was even short of required experienced teaching staff, following the departure of 24 senior teachers of the varsity, they told Dawn.
“The foreign universities had offered better packages to them and they left for various countries. If they cannot make arrangement for the required staff at the varsity, how will they hire staff for the three separate campuses?” they queried.
The UET campus saga was started in early 1980s. First, the government acquired a piece of land for the UET campus at Topi in Swabi. But that site was handed over to Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Science of Technology.
Another site was identified at Jalozai in 1990, which was a disputed land. The project was in the pipeline when local people refused to hand over occupation of the land which led to a court battle.
None of the governments had ever tried to look into the matter as to why the officials identified a disputed land for the campus. Why and what for the governments had paid them (landowners) a huge amount for the disputed land. Some insiders revealed that the cost was three times higher than the market rates and many of the players involved in this project had shared in the booty.
The VC claimed that the people responsible for the huge project put it into the cold storage for four long years which caused delay and the government shelved the scheme.
After the Ecnec approved the plan, the federal government had released Rs112 million for development work at the site, road designing, plantation and tubewells installation.
The VC, who made presentations, convinced the governor Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah that the Jalozai campus plan must be wound up and the land might be allotted to some other department for its ideal use.
The government handed over 1,500 kanal for the construction of Peshawar Central Prison out of the land earmarked for the UET Jalozai campus, and released only Rs40 million in lieu of the land price.