Encroached land: Survey of schools begins in Pindi
RAWALPINDI, Jan 19: The Punjab government has directed the city district government of Rawalpindi (CDGR) to conduct a survey of educational institutions that have lost land to the encroachers.
It may be recalled that about three months back, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had instructed the provincial government to start a process to vacate all encroached land of the educational institutions under its administrative control.
Acting upon the directives of the apex court, the government two days back sent a letter to the CDGR to start the survey.
District Coordination Officer (DCO) Saqib Zafar on Saturday presided over a meeting to discuss the matter. Executive District Officer (EDO) Education Qazi Zahoorul Haq and all principals of the local schools attended the meeting.
The meeting was informed that 27 schools’ land had been encroached by different people across the district. “As many as 21 cases are pending with the local courts while lands of five schools have been vacated from the encroachers,” said the EDO education while talking to Dawn after the meeting.
“An 11 marla plot belonging to a school at Phaghwari in Murree was encroached by different people who constructed houses on it. Action will be taken against the encroachers soon,” he said.
He added: “Rawalpindi’s oldest educational institution – Government Islamia High School for Boys No I – at Benazir Bhutto Road in front of the historic Liaquat Bagh has lost its 16 kanals to the encroachers.”
He said the CDGR had already been requested to vacate the land of the institution which was constructed before the partition of the subcontinent. The EDO said the school had total 42.3 kanals out of which the 16 kanals had been grabbed by encroachers. He
said 40 housing units, seven shops and a nursery had been built on the school land by the encroachers.
Interestingly, three cases have been pending with the local courts in which the Auqaf department has claimed ownership on the school land. “The land belonging to Shimla Boys High School, Government Ziaul Uloom No I and Government Ziaul Uloom No 2 became a bone of contention between the local government and the Auqaf department. However, the possession is still with the education department,” he said.
It may be mentioned that the Rawal Town Municipal Administration had in June 2012 declared the buildings of Shimla Boys High School, Government Ziaul Uloom No I and Government Ziaul Uloom No 2 as dangerous and asked the education department to repair or shift the schools to somewhere else.
However, the education department failed to reconstruct the buildings as their ownership cases were pending in the courts.
The department did not want to spend money on the repair of the buildings before the settlement of the cases putting the lives of the students in danger.
When contacted, the DCO told Dawn that the Supreme Court had directed the government to get the encroached land of educational institutes retrieved.
It also asked the district and sessions judges to expedite the cases regarding the encroachment of the school lands, he added.
“I have asked the officials concerned to get the land vacated from encroachers whose cases were not pending with the courts.
The ball is now in our court and it’s time to take action against the encroachers irrespective of how influential they are as the apex court is also backing the action,” he said.
The DCO added that the CDGR was also planning an operation to retrieve the encroached land.