PESHAWAR: Shuhada-i-Army Public School University of Technology Nowshera has been functioning in an abandoned building of a paper mills for the last six years owing to wrangling over selection of site for construction of its own building between a leader of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and industries department.

“The lone technology university of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was established in 2016 in the abandoned building of Adamjee Paper and Board Mills in Amangarh area of Nowshera. It has been functioning there since then in the most inconducive environment,” sources told this scribe.

They said that initially the university was set up in the abandoned building with a plan to shifted it to its own building later. However, the government failed to acquire land for it as an influential PTI leader from Nowshera didn’t allow purchase of land being selected by the authorities out of six proposed sites, they said.

“Higher Education Commission (HEC) has denied issuing regular no objection certificate (NOC) to the university for not having its own building,” an official of the university told Dawn. He said that in the absence of a regular NOC, the university was functioning on a provisional NOC issued by HEC.

Wrangling between PTI leader and industries dept delays selection of campus site

He said that major disadvantage of not having regular NOC was that HEC did not release funds to the university and the administration hardly managed amount from own resources to pay salaries to the teaching and non-teaching staff.

The official said that HEC issued meagre funds to it on the special request of the university and provincial government as and when the financial conditions further deteriorated and the administration was unable to pay salaries to the employees.

A staff member of the university said that agreement with the owner of the building expired a year ago. He added that the owner issued several eviction notices to the university administration to vacate the building. The eviction notices and warnings by the building’s owner created unrest among the students and teachers about the future of the university, he added.

He said that one day the university would have to vacate the existing rented building. That’s why the administration couldn’t spend money on the building to provide well-furnished classrooms and conducive environment to students and teachers, he added.

An official of industries department told Dawn that initially six sites were proposed for establishment of the university out of which a place near Rashakai economic zone on Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway was declared by the government the most appropriate.

He said that the selected site was also located near China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) economic zone where the students could easily approach the industry for internship. He added that students of the final year of the technology university had to spend one year in the industry for internship.

“However, an influential PTI leader didn’t allow construction of university campus at the site near economic zone and wanted establishment of the university at some other place of Nowshera which the department termed unfeasible,” said the official.

Delay in acquisition of land causes continuous increase in cost of the building for the university, according to official documents. The document state that the estimated cost of the university, approved in 2014, was Rs2.69 billion but it increased gradually. The revised cost of the university’ establishment is more than Rs4 billion.

The district administration of Nowshera imposed Section-4 of Land Acquisition Act, 1894 in January 2018 on the selected land, measuring 610 kanals “The university paid Rs158 million to the deputy commissioner of Nowshera as price of land in February 2021,” the documents state.

The industries department recently moved a summary to Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, requesting his intervention in acquisition of land for the university.

Para four of the summary states: “It is worth mentioning that this process of land acquisition has been halted, as the [former] federal minister for defence vide letter No.1/1/DM/2021 dated 05.7.2021 is asking for de-notification of the selected site and requesting for another site.”

When contacted for comments, the vice-chancellor Shuhada-i-Army Public School University of Technology Nowshera, Prof Zaffar M Khan refused to talk to this scribe.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2022

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