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SAHIWAL: A committee, headed by the special secretary of the Higher Education Department (HED) and the Multan commissioner, has visited alternative places for the establishment of the Bahauddin Zakariya University’s (BZU’s) sub-campus in Lodhran.

Lodhran Deputy Commissioner (DC) Raja Khurram Shahzad told Dawn the committee members had visited different places, including the Educational Complex.

The committee is looking for a place for the sub-campus after the plan to set up the campus at the Lodhran degree college was resisted by the college staff and students for the college lacks space to accommodate the sub-campus.

Sources told Dawn the district administration wanted the Government Degree College, Lodhran, building as the sub-campus whereas Ijaz Bhutta, HED special secretary, was interested in some other place.

Sources said the committee visited the newly-constructed Educational Complex, the Old Civil Lines Police Station, former DC House and Special Education Building in Gangaywala.

Side by side, the Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association (PPLA) held a meeting and condemned the district government’s suggestion to set up the sub-campus on the college premises. A source said when the special team visited the college, the DC said 500 students were enrolled with the college whereas the college administration data tells the strength is 1,250.

The PPLA alleged the district administration was hell-bent on snatching a public education space form the poor students for some “commercial interest”.

Before the visit of the special committee to the college, a local tehsildar with patwaris, gardawars and revenue officials arrived at the college with flags and measurement scales. When grilled, they told the principal and college teachers that they were measuring the land to see if the BZU campus was possible on the premises or not.

The students and PPLA representatives stopped the team from land measurement.

Sensing tensions, Additional Deputy Commissioner Arif Zia called the team back to his office.

DC Shahzad told Dawn said the BZU sub-campus was not being set up the college premises on a permanent basis.

He said the district administration was trying to find 300 acres for the establishment of an autonomous university in Lodhran.

The PPLA representatives stressed when there were alternative options why the local administration was capturing college building for the sub-campus. They say college has 20 rooms for 1,250 students and most of classes were being taken in the open.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2017