NAROWAL: The three hostel buildings of the Govt Boys Postgraduate College have been closed for five years and have become a shelter for drug addicts. The college ground is inundated with sewage and heaps of garbage are lying around, resulting in a foul smell across the institute.

The ground and hostels of the college in Shakargarh were built on three acres out of which the hostels cover three kanals. A number of students have lived in the hostels since their construction in 1970s, but the college administration could not look after them and closed them down on the pretext of non-availability of funds.

Resultantly, the condition of the buildings deteriorated; windows, cupboards and doors of the rooms were in a shambles; it had become a den of gypsies and gamblers; empty packs of cigarettes, cigarette buds and drugs could be found in the rooms; and an electric water pump, fans, tubelights, taps and other items had been stolen from the building. Some unidentified people were illegally residing in the library block of the hostel and enjoying free water, electricity and other facilities allegedly with the connivance of college authorities.

Students bothered by sewage inundating ground, heaps of garbage on premises

When this correspondent visited the hostel, three people were found sitting in the ground playing cards. They replied in the negative when asked if they were employees of the institution. Overgrown grass and two-foot-deep sewage could be found in the ground as well as heaps of garbage producing a foul smell that had become a nuisance for students and locals living nearby.

Various sports activities had come to a halt and students criticised the college, city, tehsil and district administrations over such sad state of affairs.

Students Muhammad Farhan and Naeem Shakir said they travelled to and from the college on motorcycles from border villages daily, which is dangerous as “a number of times we barely escaped accidents on roads”. They said dozens of students had rented private rooms so that they could devote maximum time to their studies.

Muhammad Arshad Muneer and Gulfam said that if college authorities reopened the hostels, the students could concentrate more on their studies.

Shakargarh Municipal Committee Municipal Officer (Services) Muhammad Afzal said they were draining the sewage from the ground using dewatering pump for a week and the process was ongoing. He said if locals threw garbage in the college ground, it was the duty of the administration to stop them, adding that the Municipal Committee had offered the college administration to place a container at a designated spot on the premises where people could throw garbage that would be disposed of daily. But the authorities did not respond to the offer, he claimed, and added that they disposed of the garbage whenever the college administration asked them to.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Malik Muhammad Khalil said the college administration should secure their building so that irrelevant people did not enter the hostels. Police had started a special campaign against drug-peddlers and users and were arresting and registering cases against them, he added.

College Principal Amjad Ali Shah said that hostel No 1 had been closed as the building was old and its walls dripped after rains. Hostel No 2 had been closed because the number of residents was low and expenses excessive, hostel No 3 was closed about three years ago because they did not have a security guard or sweeper for it, while the buildings department had declared the building dangerous a year ago, he added.

He further said that he was unaware if drug addicts were using the hostel, but it would be closed so that irrelevant people could not enter it. “We have written to the higher authorities a number of times to provide soil for the college ground, but have received no response so far. The Municipal Committee has been requested several times to clear the garbage, but they visit whenever they wanted.”

Locals, parents and students have demanded Chief Minister Usman Buzdar take immediate notice of the situation and reopen the hostel so that the students could be facilitated.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2019