A piece of land adjacent to Liaqat Memorial Hall in Rawalpindi has become a constant cause of disputes between the administrations of an art college and the local government.
The administration of the National College of Arts Rawalpindi (NCA) claims that the space, currently under the use of the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa), was originally part of the Liaquat Memorial Hall which is in use of the NCA.
Wasa has installed a tube-well and a refilling point in the parking lot to supply water to citizens. It also parks water tankers and heavy machinery there.
“The parking space occupied by the Wasa was the main entrance of the hall. This has forced the college administration to open its second gate,” said an NCA lecturer requesting anonymity.
“The hall could not be used for cultural activities due to non-availability of a parking area for visitors,” he added.
NCA Director Nadeem Umer Tarar said that due to the occupation of the space by the Wasa, the college has not been able to organise cultural activities to generate funds to meet financial needs of college.
“Traffic jam is a common sight on Liaqat Bagh Road and the situation will worsen if the hall is opened for cultural activities as the visitors would definitely park their vehicles on the road,” said Dr Tarar.
“Rawalpindi is one of the oldest cities and important culture centres of the Gandhara civilisation and there is a dire need to preserve its cultural history,” he said.
The NCA director said that the piece of land, which is under the use of Wasa, was the main hurdle in organising such gatherings. He lamented that the college could not organise any big activity for last several years.
“The college is in dire need of funds. This can be only be resolved if cultural activities are held here,” said Dr Tarar.
He said that the Pakistan National Council of the Arts handed over Liaquat Memorial Hall to NCA in 2006, but Wasa did not vacate the land.
The hall is spread over 52 kanals, but more than five kanals are occupied by the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA), he said.
He added that an audit report has also testified that the land has been illegally occupied by the RDA.
Wasa Spokesperson Umer Farooq rejected the NCA claim, saying that they (NCA) have encroached upon Wasa property.
“We have been using the parking lot since 1998, while the NCA was established few years back. We are using the land for people’s welfare by providing them drinking water,” Farooq said.
He said that the Rawalpindi Solid Waste Management Company also parked its vehicles there. Interestingly, officials at RDA and the land revenue department refused to share any documents to prove if the land was lawfully in their possession. They insisted that they could not share the documents without the permission of the commissioner.
Rawalpindi Commissioner Zahid Saeed, who is also the acting RDA director general, could not be reached as he was preoccupied with several scheduled meetings.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2014.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ