Ravi Shankar, a resident of the Vihar village, attends Government Sadiq Faqir Degree College in the neighbouring Mithi. Years ago, when he witnessed the construction of a spacious cadet college in his town, he nurtured a dream of pursuing a career in the army and obtaining a commission.
Currently, an FSC student, Ravi eagerly anticipated the completion of the cadet college. However, the construction of the college is still ongoing.
Ravi’s father works as a farm labourer, and during the harvest season, he also takes up cobbling jobs in nearby villages. However, he faces significant challenges in providing for his wife and three children.
Based on the 2017 census, Tharparkar district has a population of over 17 lac people, with 43.39 per cent of the residents being Hindus. The literacy rate in the district is less than 20 per cent, and most of the population lives below the poverty line.
In 2011, former President Asif Ali Zardari announced the establishment of Mithi Cadet College to provide quality education.
Shortly after, the Sindh Cabinet officially approved the institution and allocated funds for its establishment.
Located two kilometres north of Mithi city, the government allocated 89 acres of land for the college. In 2012, the foundation stone for the project was laid near the Chelhar Mor bypass. However, despite the passage of 11 years, the construction of this college remains unfinished.
According to Faraz Usman, Assistant Engineer Education Works Tharparkar, the initial estimated cost of the project was Rs 49 crore. “This amount was allocated to construct the college’s academic block, hostels, and internal communication roads. However, as time passed, the project cost continued to rise, and by 2016, it was estimated to be nearly Rs 9,929 crore.”
He says that Rs 238 million has been invested in the project up to this point. This funding has been utilised for various purposes, including the construction of the college’s boundary wall, the building structure, and the construction of the link road connecting the Mithi Road bypass to the college.
Faraz states that the contract for this project was awarded to Shaukat Memon, while Bashir Memon’s company was entrusted with the consultancy role. Initially, the project was set to be completed by 2019.
In response to the construction delay of the college, Akbar Dars, a resident of Mithi and a social activist, filed a complaint on the Prime Minister’s Portal in 2022. As a result, the executive engineer informed that the construction work had been halted due to a dispute between the project’s consultant and contractor.
The consultant and the contractor have declined to provide their position on this matter. Speaking anonymously, an official from the Education Works Department reveals that the former consultant and the contractor are relatives who had an existing dispute. Subsequently, a verbal altercation between the two arose, involving the project delay and concerns about the quality of materials being utilised.
The official explains, “As both individuals belonged to the same community, their elders intervened and prevented the matter from escalating to departmental action. Later, the consultant terminated his contract.”
The assistant engineer mentions that the college intended to admit 300 cadets upon project completion; however, the work has been halted.
He further states, “This project is also part of the current budget’s annual development program. Once a new consultant is appointed, the work will recommence.”
Imtiaz Noor Kunbhar, a 35-year-old dedicated to improving the quality of education in Tharparkar for the past ten years, holds the position of vice president and master trainer at the Young Social Reforms Foundation.
According to him, the presence of an institution like the Cadet College in Tharparkar will play a crucial role in enhancing the skills of children and offering them quality education. This college will open doors for the children of Tharparkar to pursue opportunities in various institutions, including the armed forces.
Imtiaz Noor emphasises that the residents of Tharparkar face challenges in sending their children to study in other cities. Having a college within the region would address this issue and increase the admission quota for local children.
Punjab University’s hostel are fraught with overcrowding, underfunding, favouritism and discrimination
Razak Rahmon, the GDA Member of the Provincial Assembly representing Tharparkar, acknowledges that the Cadet College is a significant regional project. However, due to departmental negligence, it still needs to be completed. There is optimism that the department will take prompt action to ensure its completion.
Kabir Bhil, the leader of the Sindhi Pupils Movement, highlights the inadequate state of education and schools in Sindh. Even primary schools lack proper buildings, and Cadet College represents a dream for the people of Thar. Should the project face further delays, it may lead to strong protests in response.
Efforts were made to reach out to local MPA Arbab Lutfullah and Surinder Vilasai, but they declined to comment.
Due to the prolonged delay in the cadet college project, Ravi Shankar has abandoned his aspirations of joining the army. Instead, he now aspires to become a doctor.
“It was truly exciting to learn about the establishment of Cadet College. I had hoped to study there. The children of Tharparkar were given lofty aspirations, but unfortunately, no one took the initiative to turn those dreams into reality.”
Published on 15 Jul 2023