The Punjab University has decided to give 80 kanals of its land to the federal government’s National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) against a sum of Rs 640 million, drawing a severe backlash from the varsity academic staff.
The Punjab University Syndicate approved the sale of the prime piece of land for the varsity in exchange for Rs 640 million (Rs 8 million per kanal) to NTDC for setting up a 220KV grid station. The NTDC will transfer the amount to the university in advance. Faculty members at PU, who have always resisted such attempts on part of the government to acquire university’s land for various projects, again raised opposition to the planned sale of land. However, their resentment fell on deaf ears as the sale was formally approved by the PU Syndicate, the highest statutory body of the university.
On Wednesday the syndicate made the decision in its meeting held at Committee Room of Vice Chancellor’s office through voting. Eight of the syndicate members voted in favour of the sale of land to NTDC, while four members cast their votes against the proposed sale. All elected members of teachers in the syndicate, including Prof Dr Sajid Rashid, Dr Mahboob Hussain, Javed Sami and Abdul Majid Rana, resisted the move and voted against handing over the university land to the transmission company.
Earlier, a teachers’ group criticised the government for its frequent attempts to acquire PU’s property and also flayed PU Vice Chancellor Dr Zakria Zakar for claiming that the land belonged to the federal government. The Punjab University administration had also released a statement against the accusations, rejecting the claims made against the vice chancellor.
A spokesman for the university strongly reacted to the criticism, saying, “A specific lobby wanted to pressurise the administration through such blackmailing tactics. As members of PU Syndicate, Javed Sami and Shumaila Gul never resisted giving away land to the government for extending Maulana Shaukat Ali Road in the meetings of the syndicate, rather they unanimously gave their consent to surrendering the university land free of cost to the government”.
The spokesman further said, “The reason behind their move is that some of them wanted to be appointed to important administrative posts, be given overseas scholarship which they were not entitled to and even wanted out of turn promotions.” The spokesman said if the administration had agreed to the illegal demands, the same people criticising the VC and propagating against the decision would have been all praises for the VC.
The spokesman said that in a recent statement, the same protesting group had praised the VC , but was now levelling baseless allegation just for political gains. He added that since Javed Sami and Majid were members of the PU Syndicate, they were well aware of the fact that the authority to surrender land rested with the syndicate, not with the VC.
The PU spokesman suggested that if protesters think the administration was spreading misinformation regarding ownership of the land, they must produce the land document in which the ownership of the said land was in the name of Punjab University.