ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has turned down the Evacuee Trust Property Board’s (ETPB) request for the allotment of 400 kanals of land for establishing a Baba Guru Nanak International University in the federal capital.
As per the original plan, the university was to be set up in Nankana Sahib. However, the ETPB had a few months ago decided to establish it in the capital city due to issues in acquiring land.
The CDA turned down ETPB’s request, saying that it did not have such a huge piece of land for the establishment of a university and culture centre, said CDA spokesperson Malik Saleem.
He said ETPB was told to purchase the required land from private parties in Zone-IV of the capital and that the CDA will fully cooperate with them in the establishment of the university.
“We will pass their building plans on a priority basis,” he said.
ETPB Chairman Sadiqul Farooq said that after the CDA’s refusal to allot land for the university at government rate, he had written to the civic agency a few days ago, asking it to help the board acquire private land measuring 200 kanals for Baba Guru Nanak University and 200 kanals for Gandhara University for which the ETPB will pay. He said the universities were aimed at promoting a soft image of the country.
ETPB originally wanted to establish the university in Nankana Sahib but decided to set it up in Islamabad after facing land acquisition issues
Mr Farooq said ETPB has been making efforts to start the Baba Guru Nanak University on a temporary basis in the premises of the Evacuee Trust building near Marriot at the earliest.
“We are hoping to lay the foundation stone in March this year so we can start M.Phil classes in the upcoming academic session,” he said, adding that a separate campus or a university on the same pattern will also be started at Nankana Sahib.
The issue of this university was taken up in the National Assembly in Oct 2017 when five lawmakers filed a calling attention notice in regards to the delay in the construction of the university in Nankana Sahib, the original site, even though the project had been included in the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) 2017-18.
Responding to the calling attention notice, Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Balighur Rehman had informed the house that ETPB had decided to move the site of the proposed university to Islamabad.
He explained that the decision was taken after the board faced resistance in acquiring land for the varsity.
When asked a question, the minister had said he did not know details of the resistance but a “political campaign” had been launched against the university and the issue involved religious sensitivity.
He also informed the house of another hurdle in the way of the university, that after the 18th Amendment, a federally chartered university can only be established in Islamabad. The minister had suggested the main university campus be set up in Islamabad with another campus in Nankana Sahib.
The federal government had already allocated Rs200 million in the PSDP for this fiscal year to the Higher Education Commission for starting work on the construction of the university in Nankana Sahib in collaboration with ETPB.
The minister had said the board was trying to make the university in Islamabad functional by June 2018.
CDA officials Dawn spoke to said ill-planning in the past was the reason for the shortage of land in Islamabad.
“We allotted an entire, 746-acre sector for Nust and H-10 was allocated for the International Islamic University,” one of the officials said, adding that Quaid-i-Azam University had been allotted 1,706 acres of which 500 acres are currently under illegal occupation.
“Had we allotted land keeping in view the needs of the future, we would have avoided the situation we are faced with today of shortage of land,” the officer said.
Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2018