PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday summoned the local government secretary asking him to clarify the situation about the provision of funds to build a wall around the University of Peshawar’s botanical garden in Azakhel area of Nowshera district.
A bench consisting of Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Syed M Attique Shah fixed Dec 1 for the next hearing into the matter observing that the local government and finance departments should stop shifting the responsibility of funding for the purpose to each other.
It was hearing a petition of the UoP’s syndicate against the orders issued by the Nowshera district nazim on Feb 3, 2016, for the cancellation of the lease of 567 kanals of land of the botanical garden.
During a hearing, the court had ordered the district administration to hand over that land to the university. The UoP got the possession of the land afterwards.
Wonders why two departments shifting funding responsibility to each other
The structures put up on the land were in dilapidated condition, while the boundary wall had crumbled down.
Last month, the court had ordered Nowshera’s district administration to approve PC-1 and ensure early construction of the boundary wall.
Lawyers Abdul Samad Khan and Waseemuddin Khattak represented the syndicate and vice-chancellor respectively, whereas director of the botanical garden Dr Asadullah, UoP assistant director (legal) Riaz Ali Khan and additional deputy commissioner of Nowshera Quratul Ain Wazir also turned up during the hearing.
National Accountability Bureau additional deputy prosecutor general Mohammad Ali, who has been appointed the focal person by the court on the matter, was also in attendance.
Ms Wazir informed the bench that Rs58.44 million was required to construct the boundary wall.
She said that the district administration had sent a letter to the secretary of the local government department for the provision of funds for that purpose.
The bench asked the local government additional secretary why the secretary of the department had not been appearing before it. It directed the secretary to attend the next hearing.
When the bench asked the additional secretary if he was aware of the issue, he replied that he had received information about the matter while coming to the court.
He added that as the matter involved finances, his department would discuss it with the finance department.
The chief justice observed why the departments had been shifting responsibility on the funding issue to each other.
The additional secretary said his department would look into the letter sent by the Nowshera administration.
The chief justice observed that there should not be further delay on the matter.
On Feb 24, 2014, the then chief minister, Pervez Khattak, had ordered the provision of around 500 kanals of the botanical garden’s land for the establishment of the campuses of the Air University and Technical University.
However, the high court had declared the order illegal on June 9, 2014.
The then Nowshera nazim, Liaqat Khattak, who is the brother of Mr Khattak, later ordered cancellation of the lease of land measuring 567 kanals.
The petitioners had said that the UoP’s syndicate had approved the establishment of the Centre of Plant Biodiversity in Dec 2003 and that included the establishment of a botanical garden in Azakhel area of Nowshera for which the district administration had leased out 689 kanals of land for 99 years in 2005.
Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2022