The Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) has issued final notices to 229 private schools operating in the residential areas to vacate their premises before the end of the year.
According to RCB officials, the notices have been served in the light of the Supreme Court order, according to which private schools were supposed to shift their establishments from residential to commercial areas.
If the orders are not followed, the RCB officials have warned in the final notices that the school buildings would be razed and lease rights would be revoked in compliance with the law.
Three years ago, the board had declared private schools in residential areas including Westridge, Raja Akram Road, Valley Road, Peshawar Road, etc illegal and notices had been issued to all establishments to move buildings to commercial areas.
The private school owners had gotten a stay against the order from the Supreme Court, which had barred the cantonment board from taking action until three years.
As the apex court’s deadline of the end of December 2021 for vacating buildings approaches, the RCB has dispatched final notices to all such institutions.
RCB spokesperson Qaiser Mehmood said that they have served the final notices considering the top court’s orders.
He said that only one institution on Peshawar Road has so far moved to a commercial area while the remaining institutions were still functioning in residential areas.
The spokesperson said that private schools established on leased and non-leased properties in residential areas would be razed to the ground after the deadline.
He said the environment, security, and traffic of the residential areas got affected because of these establishments.
Meanwhile, All Private Schools Management Association member Abrar Ahmad Khan said that private educational institutions have been facing a lot of difficulties for the last two years because of the coronavirus pandemic.
He said that only three of 42 cantonment boards in the country had been built with proper planning with separate residential, commercial and other zones.
All other cantonments were built after the buildings had been already constructed there, he said, adding where the schools would be relocated in the absence of availability of buildings in commercial areas.
He said that a review petition was still pending in the Supreme Court and they would take up the matter in the court to adjudicate the matter keeping the ground realities in view.
He said that the order for shifting private educational institutions from residential areas was unjustified and they would raise their voice against it at every forum.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2021.
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