LAHORE: The provincial sports department has once again ‘started pressurising’ the Higher Education Department (HED) to surrender a piece of 10-kanal land belonging to a government college in Gulberg.

An official source claimed that the department was allegedly attempting to grab the land of the Government Graduate College for Boys in Gulberg for the third time.

He said for the first time [in 2013], the department of youth affairs, sports, archaeology and tourism officials came to the college and directed the administration to shift the college to any other place as all the land belonged to them.

He said for the second time [2020], the department approached the administration with a claim of 40-kanal land and did not provide any document. Now for the third time, the department presented a paper claiming 10-kanal land ownership where the postgraduate block of the college was constructed, and directed to vacate the building.

Official says as per law land of educational institute can’t be used for any other purpose

The HED had previously also faced pressure from the sports department to allow its acquisition of a 40-kanal piece of land belonging to a government graduate college for boys in Gulberg. The department had claimed to construct a sports school on the land of the college situated at a prime location facing Ferozepur Road.

The sports department had sent a letter to the HED secretary seeking a no objection certificate (NOC) for the acquisition of the 10-kanal piece of land of the college.

The source said the land of an educational institution could not be used for any other purpose under the law. However, he said, the sports department had been pressuring the secretary to issue the NOC.

The college administration also opposed the acquisition of its land and made a representation to the HED secretary arguing that the construction of a sports school on the premises of the college was also against the judgement of the Supreme Court.

He said the the sports officials had already earmarked the proposed property for demolition and had been visiting it every other day as a ‘pressure tactic’.

The proposed site and buildings are currently being utilised for academic/sport, administrative activities and residences of the principal, vice principal, hostel warden, hostel superintendent and Grade-IV employees. There is no vacant building or spare land on the premises of the college.

Already 3,500 students were enrolled in bachelors of physical education, Islamic Studies, mass communication (morning and evening), commerce (morning and evening), Urdu (morning), computer science (evening) and information technology.

The college already requires more infrastructure and teaching facilities to run it at the optimum level. The available college land will be utilised to meet the current and future academic requirements. The number of students will also increase after the start of the next academic year when the college will launch six new BS programmes including sports sciences.

Principal Dr Arif said the college had been established in 1960 on 136 kanal land and it all belonged to the college.

He said the administration will have to build a BS block, ground parking and other infrastructure to facilitate the increasing demand of students.

HED Secretary Sajid Zaffar Dall told Dawn that his office had received an application for NOC and would respond after briefing the authorities concerned. He said there had been no pressure from any quarter for the issuance of the NOC.

“The college does not have any land allocated to it. The land stands allocated to sports department,” he said.

Mr Dall said it was not a new matter as the sports department had off and on been claiming the land.

He said the HED had not yet handed over the land to the sports department. The college has an occupation of around 150 kanal of land without any documentation. “We need some documents to respond to the sports department.”

Mr Dall said the state land belonged to the provincial government and not to any department. “The instant land stands allocated to the sports department for which we have established our claims.”

He said neither the college nor the HED has any documentary proof to claim this land.

However, he said the college has land beyond its requirements and HED would rather be more interested in conducting the performance audit of the college than to get into such issues.

In 2014, the Punjab government had tried to rent out the 10-kanal piece of land of the same college to a private bus company that had clinched an agreement to get the land on a Rs500,000 monthly rent for 18 months (not extendable). However, the administration had to hold college council meetings four times to look into the government’s demands and eventually refused to give the land.

The college administration resisted citing the Supreme Court decision on the Punjab University case that the land of any educational institution could not be used for any other purpose.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2023

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