LAHORE: The Punjab cabinet on Monday engaged in a heated debate over the issue of forest land occupied by Bahria Town Rawalpindi, and resolved to approach the Supreme Court for payment on the basis of the present day price.
Chief Minister Usman Buzdar presided over the 14th cabinet meeting and considered a seven-point agenda. However, the issue of retrieval of forest land from Bahria Town was not reflected on the agenda.
A large portion of forest land in Rawalpindi (Takht Parri and other Shamilat) had illegally been included in the Bahria Town scheme. The land retrieval case had reached the Supreme Court where the housing scheme management had presented two payment proposals at Rs2.4 million per kanal and Rs1.1 million per kanal since a large number of houses had already been constructed on the land in question.
Though some cabinet members wanted to give a go-ahead and collect the payment, sources said that many of the members did not agree to any proposal asserting that the price of the land was much higher than the price being offered. Some cabinet members even proposed seeking compensation for the environmental damage, as the forest land was illegally occupied and trees were cut.
After over an hour, the cabinet decided that the Punjab government should approach the Supreme Court and request that price should be fixed per kanal according to the market rate.
Moving on to the agenda items, the CM approved appointment of Shah Nawaz Nasir Shah as general manager of Punjab Pension Fund.
A proposed policy on emergency flood protection works was also approved for saving the local population, agricultural lands and gardens in the wake of possible threats of flood. It was decided that the name of the cabinet’s sub-committee for flood would be changed to the cabinet’s committee for flood, and the provision of necessary funds also approved in principle.
The chief minister directed line departments to complete their prior engagements in the wake of a possible threat of flood, adding that district administrations will be provided resources on priority.
The meeting also approved proposed amendments to the draft Punjab Witness Protection Rules and Punjab Sugar Factory Control Rules 1950. It also decided to entrust the matter of amendments to the Punjab Sugar Factory (Control) Act 1950 to the provincial cabinet committee for legislative, which will submit its final recommendations after reviewing the matter. The decisions made in the 12th meeting of the cabinet were also endorsed.
Provincial ministers, advisers and special assistants, the chief secretary, inspector general of police and administrative secretaries were among those who attended the meeting.
MEDICAL ENTRANCE TEST: The Punjab government plans to propose to the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) to reduce the medical college entrance test weightage from 50 per cent to 30pc. The FSc marks may be given 70pc weightage.
The government plans to write to the council to call a meeting of all four provinces’ health departments and relevant bodies and discuss the long-awaited medical colleges’ entrance test issue and resolve it once and for all.
Chief Minister Buzdar presided over the meeting to discuss that the weightage of medical colleges’ entrance test be redesigned in line with the engineering universities’ tests that carried 30pc weightage, while the remaining 70pc weightage was attached to the FSc results.
The meeting participants wanted that the Punjab government take a decision as it enjoyed powers under the 18th Amendment. However, sources claimed that the 18th Amendment ordinance was about to lapse and the previous law would be restored.
The meeting was also told that the PMDC had already decided not to consider matriculation examination marks, as until now it carried 10pc weightage towards calculation for medical colleges’ merit. The council has also decided to raise the minimum FSc marks to 70pc for being eligible to sit the entrance test.
The PMDC had decided to do away with the negative marking in the entrance test and now 200 questions would be asked carrying one mark each. It has also recently decided that the medical colleges’ entrance test should be held simultaneously across the country on Aug 25.
The CM directed to submit the final review of medical entrance test weightage after seeking proposals from the stakeholders.
Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid told the meeting that the entrance test for medical colleges would be held in the last week of August. She said the PMDC would be consulted for the determination of test numbers for admission to medical colleges.