A controversy between Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) Islamabad and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has surfaced over retrieval of the university’s land from encroachers.
The QAU administration claims that a large portion of its land is in illegal possession of 13 villages and some “politically-backed” land grabbers, against whom CDA is not taking any action despite repeated requests by the administration.
However, in its reply to the cabinet division, CDA maintained that it had cleared the land of all encroachers and handed it over to QAU. The civic body said that it is then the university’s responsibility to protect its land from illegal occupants, although it can utilise services of CDA’s Enforcement Directorate.
QAU Vice Chancellor Dr Masoom Yasinzai said that the illegal occupants have been “there since day one”. He said it is difficult for the university administration and students to confront the villagers and powerful land grabbers, adding that CDA “does not pay any heed to our demand”. He said that the plan to expand the university campus has been expedited to prevent further encroachments on the university’s land.
The VC said that despite several requests, the Interior Ministry has been unable to compel CDA to construct a boundary wall around the university to provide security to its students, adding that around 2,400 students, including girls, are currently living in QAU hostels.
An official of the university said that the politically-backed group of land grabbers that have occupied a large chunk of QAU land are the same from whom the Supreme Court forcibly retrieved state land in Bani Gala.
The Supreme Court recently revealed that the worth of state land in Islamabad under illegal possession is around Rs1 trillion. It also disclosed that around 20,000 acres (160,000 kanals) of state land, worth several hundred billion rupees, is not in possession of the CDA and whenever the authority tries to take back its possession, the occupants resist.
CDA Chairman Imtiaz Inayat Elahi told the apex court that in 1960s residents who owned land earmarked for the capital city were given compensation money under the terms that the government could take ownership of the land whenever required. He said that since then the value of land has increased significantly, which is why the occupants refuse to vacate.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2011.