ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s plan of converting the Prime Minister House into a modern university is likely to cost over Rs35 billion as new buildings will be constructed on over 50 acres of land.
Sources said that the Pakistan Science and Technology Task Force, which is looking into the proposed university project, estimated an initial cost of over Rs35 billion for the university, however, a feasibility study for the said project is yet to be conducted.
As per officials at the Ministry of Planning and Development, an important meeting on the planned project was held at the ministry on Thursday, which was chaired by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar.
The meeting was also attended by Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan Science and Technology Task Force Chairperson Prof Dr Attaur Rehman, Member Science and Technology Dr Hussain Abidi and senior officials from the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
According to the officials, Prof Dr Attaur Rehman briefed the participants about the latest developments in the establishment of the university at the PM House. The ministers were informed that the planned university will have three centres of excellence and eight departments with a special focus on innovation and technology development. The university will accommodate more than 1000 PhDs and PostDoc fellows and 200 faculty members, ministers added.
He also elaborated that a budget of Rs200 million is required to conduct an initial feasibility study.
The planning minister noted that the manufacturing sector in Pakistan needs to be supported through cutting edge and latest technologies in order to make them more competitive. He directed the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) to form a special committee to ensure that the university focuses on relevant technologies that can support the manufacturing industry in Pakistan. He said that there should be no delay in the establishment of the University as it is a high priority project.
The planning minister was also briefed about the scholarships that will be offered at the university.
Sources said that since the prime minister wants fast-track progress on the project, the concerned ministries and authorities have speeded up initial work on the proposed university. The university was among Prime Minister Imran Khan’s election promises and was included in the PTI party’s manifesto before the July 25 election as well.
Initially, the incumbent government faced great difficulty in going ahead with the proposal because of the PM House is located in a highly sensitive area and red zone of the capital, but the premier insisted that the university would be built there.
To build the new university, the government also needed to change in the master plan of the capital for carrying out new/additional construction on the land adjacent to the PM House. To deal with this, the federal cabinet approved a specific change to the master plan of Islamabad last year.
Sources said that the total area of PM House could be more than 100 acres but the university required over 50 acres on the north-western side of the building.