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SAHIWAL: The Punjab Higher Education Department (HED) is alleged to have allotted premises of a college for opening the Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan sub-campus in Lodhran.

Academics have described it as a hasty move initiated at the behest of the chief minister.

Sources told Dawn although there were certain conditions to be met by the district administration, the BZU management was in a hurry to launch MA/MSc classes without any infrastructure.

The HED’s decision of handing over the Government Degree College, Lodhran’s postgraduate block for BZU sub-campus smacks of ‘ill intention’ as it dispatched two letters on the same day (Jan 8) -- one to the Multan commissioner and the other to The Director of Education (Colleges), Multan having same number S0 (Dev-F)51-13/2016.

The first letter asks commissioner “that a suitable piece of land may be identified for purpose-built campus of the sub-campus of BZU, Multan in Lodhran.” The other letter written to The Director of Education (Colleges), Multan says, “CM has approved a summary where postgraduate block of Govt. Degree College, Lodhran may be provided for the establishment of sub-campus of BZU, Multan.”

It further reads, “certain alterations will be done in existing building for six to seven weeks.”

A teacher told Dawn over phone that local MPs of the ruling party were behind the move ahead of a crucial by-poll. “They are propagating among their constituents that the university has been established in Lodhran for higher education,” he claimed.

Prof Waris Malik, who heads the Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association’s local chapter, told Dawn that although the HED had issued an NOC for establishment of sub-campus, it had set certain conditions.

“The (Multan division) commissioner will allocate resources to construct 10 additional rooms within college premises in six to seven weeks, no segregation wall will be constructed on the campus, separate entrance will be built by the BZU administration for sub-campus, the staff residences will not be occupied and the new campus will remain within college control. Also, the university will vacate occupied block once it gets its own building,” says the HED.

He said the teachers would ensure all conditions are met before handing over the college premises.

In November last, a committee headed by Ijaz Bhutta, Special Secretary, HED and Commissioner Bilal Ahmed visited various places to find a suitable area for sub-campus in Lodhran. Deputy Commissioner Raja Khurram Shahzad had claimed that the committee members were working on various proposals which would be forwarded to the chief minister.

The institute spreads over 20 acre having 20 rooms -- 13 are used for intermediate classes and seven for graduation. More than 1,250 students are enrolled in the college and many classes are held in the open because of shortage of classrooms.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2018