Around 4 years ago, on August 19, 2018, the Prime Minister announced his decision to establish a university in the PM house. Two months later this decision was ratified by the federal cabinet.
In an exclusive interview, Tariq Banuri, the chairman of HEC, told the Academia Magazinethat the HEC was asked to prepare a PC-1 for this project. Following this instruction, on 3rd December, a project titled “Establishment of INU – Part-I: Adaption of PM House into Institute of Advanced Study” was submitted by the HEC to the Planning Commission. This project was to incura capital cost of Rs.492.731 million.
However, when the project was discussed in the pre-CDWP meeting on December 14, the committee asked for a PC-II instead of asking for a feasibility study. Accordingly, on 1stJanuary,2019, the commission forwarded two projects, namely a PC-I costing Rs.305.586 million, and a PC-II costing Rs.150.617 million.
According to Banuri, before these could be processed, the PM directed that the project be transferred to Atta-ur- Rahman, and that the PC-I be prepared by the Ministry of Science & Technology (MoST).
Later in 2019, the MoST submitted the PC-I for an entirely new project titled “Pak-University of Engineering & Emerging Technologies (PUEET), Islamabad”, proposing a total cost of Rs. 45 billion, later revised to Rs. 32.81 billion.
The chairman said that this was done without informing the HEC of the decision. However, the Planning Commission sought comments from all members, and HEC duly complied. Simultaneously, the MoST also submitted a draft Charter of the university to be presented to the parliament. The MoST’s project that cost Rs. 32.81 billion was discussed by the CDWP on 3rdMarch, 2020, and was unanimously condemned by all members. The CDWP only approved a feasibility study, although at an inflated cost of Rs.390.00 million.
“In any event, the PC-II for the feasibility study was submitted to the DDWP (Division Development Working Party) of the MoST on November 9, 2020 and was approved at a cost of Rs. 390 million for conducting master planning, detailed designing and hiring of PMU & Quality Core Team in 12 months” says Banuri.
Subsequently, a project director was hired by the MoST. Furthermore, instead of conducting a feasibility study, the MoST used the money illegally to purchase 50 acres of land. An expenditure Rs.332.099 million was incurred, which made up 85% of the total amount.
According to reports, theMoSTlater revised the PC-II on March 26, 2021 deciding on the same cost but a shorter duration of 8 months. According to the Admin Approval issued by the MoST, the PC-II has been completed onDecember 31, 2021.
ProfessorBanuri revealed that after this, there was complete silence on this topic, until the project suddenly reappeared in the CDWP on May 25, 2021. This happened soon after the illegal removal of Chairman HEC. The project was then approved at a slightly higher cost of Rs. 34.74 billion. However, when it went to ECNEC on June 4, 21, it asked for cost rationalization, and principally approved a modified project at a cost of Rs.23.54 billion subject to rationalization.
“On June 22, 2021, the PM directed that project be transferred back from the MoST to the HEC under “new management”. This required the resubmission of the same PC-I by the HEC to the Planning Commission, which was done on August 20, 2021”.
The HEC chairman said that the CDWP approved the exact same project PCI at a cost of Rs. 23.54 billion on September 1, 2021, and recommended it to ECNEC, which principally approved it on September 9, 2021. A final approval was given on November 24, 2021. Accordingly, the HEC moved a summary for technical supplementary grant of Rs.3.498 billion by transferring PSDP 2021-22 allocation of the Project from the MoST to HEC.
“The claim of the MoST that PUEET is one project reflected in its PSDP for 2021-22 and its PC-II and PC-I should therefore be merged, is pending before the Planning Commission for a decision. The objective of this request seems to be to cover up the illegal purchase of land”.