PESHAWAR - The University of Peshawar teaching and non-teaching staff has opposed the establishment of proposed two public sector universities on the Botanical Garden's land in Azakhel area of Nowshera.

 "The community warned to move the apex court and would also launch agitation against the incumbent PTI-led government, if tried to implement the disputed project," said Dr Fazal Nisar, President, Peshawar University Teachers Association (PUTA) while speaking at a news conference here at the Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday. He said that the UoP's Botanical Garden is spreading at over 677 kanals land in Azakhel area of Nowshera, which was leased out for 99 years, with the district administration in the former Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) government in 2005.

Dr Nasir informed that the administrative control was also being handed over to the University of Peshawar after the proper accord, while academic activities being carried out for the last nine months in the Botanical Garden, graduating 200 students every year, under very nominal fee structure. He claimed that a Ph.D student would also get a degree from the botanical garden in next week as well.

The Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter General Secretary Dr Jamal Ahmad, University of Peshawar Class-III and IV employees Association Presidents Muzakar Shah, Imadad Khan, along with scores of senior and junior faculty members of the varsity were present during press conference. 

 The association president further said that the PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to hand over a piece of 300 kanals botanical garden land to Islamabad-based Air University along with the sparing 250 kanal land for the establishment of another technical university. "The Botanical Garden was reduced to only 100 kanal land following the recent step of provincial government," he said, adding the government didn't consult the administration and faculty members of the university before taking such huge step.

 Dr Fazal Nasir said the establishment of both public-sector universities are in violation of the lease agreement that signed by the then provincial government, the district administration and the University of Peshawar. He said the administration of University of Peshawar spent about Rs37 million for the development of botanical park with the financial support of federal government. He said the park was internationally ranked.

Similarly, he said the damaged land of botanical garden by last flash floods in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was also rehabilitated in three years with funds of the varsity.  He said that a project worth Rs500 million has also been proposed for the garden to the federal government so the steps would be beneficial for the inhabitants of Nowshera.  

 Dr Fazal said the establishment of universities on land of Botanical Garden was also against the judgments of Supreme Court and international rules and environmental aspects as well.  "We are favouring establishment of new public sector universities but would not accept any step, which could undermine already established institute for this purpose," Dr Fazal said.

He said the association would hold a general body meeting today (Thursday), on the issue, would decide a future course of action. The association demanded the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and PTI Chairman Imran Khan to take serious the issue and stop initiating such disputed projects, which could be harmful for international standard of the Botanical Garden in Azakhel.