DC refuses to open Azakhel Botanical Garden

University of Peshawar official alleges CM is supporting the move.

Asad Zia May 16, 2016

PESHAWAR: Although Peshawar High Court has ordered the opening of Azakhel Botanical Garden, Nowshera district Deputy Commissioner Iftikhar Khan has kept the facility closed. This has put the future of hundreds of students and scholars at stake.

While talking to The Express Tribune, a senior official of UoP alleged the DC was keeping the botanical garden closed with the support of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak. The official added the DC was using different tactics to keep the gates locked.

For instance, he pointed out, the DC asked the university administration to close the garden after the Bacha Khan University attack in January, saying the facility did not have adequate security for students and teaching staff.

However, the official said more security guards were appointed and the latest weapons were provided, but the next day police confiscated those arms. “The law-enforcers said the weapons were illegal and without licences.”

The garden was closed on April 20. The official said the DC told them UoP’s lease was cancelled.

The university official said authorities from the university visited the DC on May 12 and showed him the PHC verdict ordering reopening of the garden, but the latter refused to accept, saying he was only answerable to the district nazim and not any court.

Stressing the allegations, the official said the CM openly supported the DC for the construction of universities in Nowshera for political point scoring purposes.

Between two districts

As per documents available with The Express Tribune in February 2014, the provincial government planned that 500 out of 677 kanals of Botanical Garden in Azakhel, Nowshera be given for two universities in Nowshera; Air University and Technical University.

To challenge the CM, officials from UoP took the case to PHC on June 9, 2014. Subsequently, the court declared the CM’s order illegal and said UoP administration may continue with its work.

The documents read the Botanical Garden was leased out for 99 years and was handed over to UoP from the Nowshera district administration’s control during the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal government in 2005 when Akram Khan Durrani was the CM.

It further read that 200 students graduated ever year after studying under a nominal fee structure.

While talking to The Express Tribune, UoP Spokesperson Akhtar Amin said the Nowshera DC refused to open the gates of Azakhel Botanical Garden in utter disregard of PHC order. He added employees, students and senior officials of UoP were barred from entering by a heavy contingent of police.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2016.


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