Cabinet approves proposals to resolve dispute over Bhara Kahu bypass project

Published December 1, 2022
Construction work underway on the Bhara Kahu bypass project along Srinagar Highway on Wednesday. — APP
Construction work underway on the Bhara Kahu bypass project along Srinagar Highway on Wednesday. — APP

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet has approved recommendations of a committee constituted to resolve the Bhara Kahu bypass project dispute over the use of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU)’s land.

The university’s registrar had raised multiple objections in a reply submitted to the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif formed the cabinet committee for finalising recommendations on the bypass project. The alignment of the under-construction bypass crosses a portion of QAU’s land. In October, IHC Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb stayed the project on a petition filed by the university teachers against the use of the land. However, work on the remaining portion of the road project continues.

On Nov 4, the judge in his order sheet observed: “Given the urgency in the matter, I am of the view that the federal government ought to play the role of a mediator between the petitioners and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) in order to resolve the dispute.”

Federal cabinet’s decision needed to be placed before relevant QAU authority, registrar tells high court

Last week, additional attorney general Munawar Iqbal told the court that the cabinet’s committee had noted the apprehensions of the petitioners and submitted its report to the federal cabinet.

Upon his request, the court adjourned the hearing for a week.

It may be mentioned that the Bhara Kahu bypass project was also one of the agenda items of the federal cabinet’s meeting held on Wednesday. The committee approved the recommendations of the subcommittee and the decision would be conveyed to the IHC during the upcoming hearing of the case, sources said.

In a related development, the QAU registrar requested the court to seek a response from the university on the cabinet’s recommendations.

He stated that the CDA cannot use the university’s land without the consent of its administration.

“The syndicate of the university has given conditional consent for the exchange of the land. Since, the conditions have not been fulfilled by the CDA, therefore, the agreement stands aberrated,” the registrar said.

He added: “The conduct of CDA towards QAU is simply unjustified and the CDA is imposing its decisions unilaterally. It can be substantiated with the fact that the initiation of the Bhara Kahu bypass road through QAU’s land has been done without any intimation and consent of the university. The CDA dismantled the boundary/security wall of the university without prior permission and no damage has been paid so far. Heavy construction machinery, batching plant and site camp offices were established without even intimation and permission of the QAU. The security guards of the university, who visited the site upon the directions of the security office of QAU, were handed over to the police by the personnel working at the site.”

The reply of the university submitted to the IHC stated: “Quaid-i-Azam University is under a great unrest as all academic and research activities at the university remained totally suspended for a week due to a strike of students against the said Bara Kahu bypass Road.”

It added that at a meeting held on Nov 28, all deans, chairpersons and directors of the university unanimously rejected the construction of the bypass road through the QAU’s land.

The university insisted that the decision of the federal cabinet “will be needed to be placed before the relevant university’s authority.”

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2022

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