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Library space woes in Hyderabad: Students struggle for seats, expansion plans delayed

Ashfaq Laghari

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Read In Urdu

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Library space woes in Hyderabad: Students struggle for seats, expansion plans delayed

Ashfaq Laghari

loop

Read In Urdu

Mohammad Rafiq Samejo, from the district of Tharparkar, has been residing in Hyderabad for the past six months. Every morning at seven o'clock, he arrives at the entrance of Shams-ul-Ulama Dr. Omar bin Muhammad Dawood Pota Library in the city to prepare for the entrance test of Sindh University, Jamshoro.

There are limited chairs in the library, and since many people come here, not everyone gets chairs, and people have to sit on the floor.

Most library users are male and female students who line up at the library door early in the morning. The first one to arrive gets a chair.

Muhammad Rafiq has been coming here for more than five months now. He is usually among the first people to arrive here daily. However, despite that, he could not get a seat seven to eight times during this time.

He says that if facilities are improved in the library, all students can sit and study comfortably.

The library's Deputy Director says that due to the lack of space, additional furniture cannot be accommodated.

He mentions that Taj Joyo, the Secretary-General of the Sindh Literary Society, had filed a constitutional petition in the Sindh High Court in which he had raised questions about the functioning of the Department of Culture, highlighting the lack of space in the library.

In response, the court had sought answers from the Commissioner of Hyderabad and the Department of Culture and Heritage, Sindh.

As a result, in February 2020, the Additional Commissioner of Hyderabad Division sent an official letter to the Secretary of the Department of Culture and Heritage, Sindh, in which it was decided to select the location/building for the library's expansion based on the Deputy Director's recommendation, where the Qasimabad Police Station is currently located.

The place where the police station is located was initially designated for the Department of Industries' printing press, but it was handed over to the police. Now, it has been assigned to the Dawood Pota Library.

The Dawood Pota Library is located between the Sindh Museum and the Sindh Language Authority.

There exists a road between the library and Qasimabad Police Station. In the expansion project, the construction of a bridge on the road between the library and the approved Block B is also included to facilitate the pedestrian readers.

In 2019, after Taj Joyo filed a constitutional petition in the Sindh High Court, several visits were made by the Divisional Commissioner Hyderabad, DIG Sindh Police, Department of Culture, Department of Works and Services, Provincial Building Division engineers, and officials for the expansion of the library.

The building already exists, but it requires maintenance and modifications to make it suitable for use as a library. In this regard, engineers have prepared plans and designs for Block B.

Furthermore, work orders have been issued by the relevant department, the Provincial Building Division, to commence the work.

According to the records, under the expansion project of the Dawoodpota Library, the Executive Engineer Provincial Building Division Hyderabad issued a work order in December 2020 for the maintenance and rehabilitation of various parts of Block B at Rs 34.8 million. For this purpose, the contractor has already collected PKR 7 million in security with the Executive Engineer.

According to the contractor, they were supposed to complete the work within two years by 2022. However, due to the police not vacating the premises, the work could not even begin.

The Executive Engineer of the Provincial Building Division Hyderabad wrote to the SHO of Qasimabad Police Station in his departmental letter on April 7, 2021, stating that in accordance with the decision of the meeting held under the chairmanship of the Divisional Commissioner Hyderabad on February 18, 2019, to implement the orders of the Sindh High Court, this place (the police station building) should be vacated.

Meetings have been held with the Commissioner Hyderabad from 2019 to September 2023. The Commissioner and DIGs have visited the library, but the construction of Dawood Pota Library's Block B has not been completed. The police station is still in its place.

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According to the Deputy Director of the library, Basharat Ali Baloch, he has had several meetings with relevant government officials, especially DIG Hyderabad and Commissioner Hyderabad, over the past two years.

He says that every incoming Commissioner and DIG talks about relocating the police station to some other place and vacating the library premises, but it has never been implemented.

While discussing this matter with the delegation, the current DIG Hyderabad, Tariq Razak Dharejo, had said that he would take a position on it after visiting the library within a week. However, despite a week passing, this visit could not take place.

Before that, when they contacted the Public Relations Officer of DIG Hyderabad, he responded that the DIG himself could talk about this matter.

The Deputy Director of the library, Basharat Ali Baloch, stated that they have had several meetings with the current DIG Police Hyderabad and Commissioner Hyderabad to vacate their place. Meetings have been held, but no concrete result has emerged.

Published on 4 Oct 2023

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