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June 6, 2021

Questions raised over PU Society Project’s financial transparency

LAHORE : A number of members of a housing project launched by Punjab University’s teachers while raising questions over financial affairs of the project have demanded complete transparency especially vis-a-vis profit earned on installments paid by them.

The issue was raised in a recent general members’ meeting of the PU Town-III/Jamia Town held at New Campus. One of the members expressing concerns asked the management committee of Jamia Town as to why the members had been kept in dark about details of profit earned on installments paid by the members since 2016.

The sources further said that management committee of Jamia Town had established its office at the university’s Electrical Engineering Department where all utilities of the university were being used including electricity, water, gas and internet etc.

One of the members, seeking anonymity, alleged that PU Jamia Town management committee was delaying payments to purchase land just to earn profit on the money deposited by the members. He also alleged that it was illegal act on part of management committee members that instead of registering purchased land in the name of Academic Staff Association (ASA), they registered land in the name of some teachers.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Punjab University administration on two different occasions, most recently in April this year, dissociated itself from the housing project launched by some faculty members observing “…the University of the Punjab has no connection with the scheme, whatsoever being launched and operated in the name and style of Town III.”

The university administration also directed the administrative bodies of the said housing scheme not to use name or logo of the Punjab University. Ironically, the PU administration has never barred the Jamia Town management committee from using university’s official building as the project’s office.

Last year, the University of Engineering & Technology (UET) Lahore had got vacated office of a housing scheme set up by the teachers. Recently, the UET administration also issued a notification clarifying that the university had no connection as well as owed no legal, financial or any other liability with respect to Engineering University Employees Cooperative Housing Society (EUECHS) Phase I & Phase II.

The UET administration also directed management of the said society, launched by faculty members, not to use name and logo of the UET Lahore for this purpose.

According to a recent report, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has also launched an investigation into alleged mismanagement and financial irregularities in the PU Town-III/Jamia Town project.

The accountability watchdog started the probe following complaints that the housing project, launched over five years ago, had yet to see any development work and subsequent allotment of plots.

When contacted, Jamia Town management committee secretary Engr Prof Dr Azhar Naeem said that a total of 120 acres land was required for the housing project whereas 130 acres had been purchased while the profit earned on payments made by the members was intact.

Prof Azhar Naeem said that initially 32 acres of land was bought and registered in the name of the PU Registrar but the then Vice-Chancellor Prof Zafar Moeen stopped this practice in 2017. He added after approval from the ASA, the land was transferred in the name of four teachers with proper agreements that none of their heirs could claim the land in case of any eventuality.

He further said that NOCs from the relevant departments had been issued to LDA in favour of Jamia Town and technical approval process was underway. ‘My office is always open for any clarification and visitation of record by the members’, he said.

When contacted, PU registrar Dr Khalid Khan said that the management committee was also barred from using the university premises for its office. He said the same was communicated to the committee in writing and added that he would check if the said office was still functional within the campus and take action accordingly.