Punjab govt lands in trouble with Punjab University

Negotiations over canal bank expansion project turn sour.


Shahram Haq March 29, 2011

LAHORE:


Negotiations between the Punjab government and the Punjab University syndicate regarding the acquisition of land to construct a road linking Maulana Shaukat Ali Road to Allama Iqbal Town failed on Monday, after the project cost has doubled due to delays over the years.


The plan to construct a road through Punjab University’s Quaid-e-Azam campus from Shah De Khui to Karim Block of Allama Iqbal Town was first proposed in 2006 to ease up traffic on from the Jinnah Hospital underpass to University campus underpass.

The original proposal involved a 2km dual carriageway and two overhead bridges. Feasibility studies for the project have been completed and the total cost which was previously estimated at Rs350 million has now risen to Rs650 million due to the increase in cost of materials. Officials feared that the project cost could exceed a billion rupees if it is delayed further.

Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (TEPA) director Israr Saeed said that the Punjab Government cannot force the university administration to surrender the land. He said the land belongs to the university falls under federal laws. “We are trying to pressure the Punjab University Syndicate to hand over the land in public interest but they have refused to do so,” Saeed said.

Saeed said that the government had presented the university with two proposals. The first involved constructing a road below the ground level and establishing green belts around the site, while the second involved allowing the university administration to build for commercial property along it and generate revenue. “The university has turned down both. Saeed said that once the land was available, TEPA would immediately start work on the project.

Punjab University registrar Dr Muhammad Akhter said that the syndicate elections were scheduled to be held in April. He said the new body could take a decision on the proposals.  “The new syndicate will decide on the terms and conditions for transfer of land to the Punjab government” Akhter said. Akhter also said that the syndicate also reserved the right to refuse handing over the land.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2011.

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