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Silence over school ground occupation in Mianwali

MIANWALI, Oct 3: The district government is constructing a stadium at the 64-canal playground of the century-old Government High School for Boys, but the education department is indifferent to the issue.

Local Hindu businessmen established the historic school east of Mianwali Town in 1902. It was upgraded to middle level in 1917 and some more mudrooms were added to its existing three-mudroom structure. The school was upgraded to high school level with the help of Hindu businessman Ram Mohan Roy in 1927 and it was named Ram Mohan Roy High School. Mr Roy provided funds for a spacious and beautiful school building that is still intact.

In 1934, landowner Shiri Golati Lal donated his 32-kanal agricultural land to the school. Another philanthropist from Isakhel tehsil, Lala Bodh Raj, donated his 18-room inn to the school in 1925. The school made the inn, which had two-kanal area, its boarding house in 1927. In addition to its structure, the school had a 64-kanal playground.

After partition, the school was named Government High School for Boys and it was transferred to the rehabilitation department as evacuee property. Later, it was transferred to the education department.

A few years later, the school started losing its property. In 1966, the Pakistan Air Force got control of 16 of the 32-kanal land, donated by Shiri Golati Lal, to set up an oil depot for its Mianwali base. Later, land grabbers occupied the remaining 16-kanal agricultural land.

The education department is trying to regain this land through the court half-heartedly. A few years ago, a so-called non-government organisation for blinds occupied the school's boarding house, which the education department has failed to regain so far.

And now Mianwali's district and tehsil authorities are trying, so far successfully, to take control of the school's 64-kanal playground by constructing a stadium there.

A retired headmaster of the school said that the stadium was being constructed without education department's permission, adding the tehsil municipal administration (TMA) had no jurisdiction over educational institutions' properties. He said Tehsil Nazim Muhammad Amjad Khan, who is son of Federal Minister Dr Sher Afgan Niazi, had started construction of a so-called sports complex without any legal claim over the school land.

It has been learnt the project has been changed several times and finally the sports complex has converted into a cricket stadium. As usual, district and provincial education authorities are silent over this 'highhandedness' of the district government.

The Federal Sports Ministry is funding the project worth Rs50 million. According to the plan, the district sports committee will be in charge of the stadium after its completion, while the school administration will have nothing to do with it.

School Headmaster Muhammad Nawaz Khan said the school had not issued a no objection certificate to the district government for a stadium on its playground. He said the tehsil nazim had told him the education department had allowed the district government to construct the stadium.

The executive district officer for education was not available for comment. In his absence, District Officer for Secondary Schools Muhammad Farooq Khan said he was unaware of any such permission to the district government.

The tehsil nazim said the construction of a stadium on the school's playground was proposed in 1991 by the then deputy commissioner (DC) of Mianwali. He said the DC had floated the proposal after getting permission from the education department. He said he just pursued the case and got funds approved for the stadium. He said he was trying to get more funds for the stadium. Dawn

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