Lahore: The Punjab Assembly (PA) speaker has directed the Committee for Agriculture to probe the appointment of six senior faculty members, appointed by the University of Agriculture (UAF), Faisalabad, ëin clear violation of merití.

The issue was brought in the notice of the House during the question-hour session on Tuesday, the second day of the 19th PA session.

Ahmed Ali Aulakh, provincial Minister for Agriculture, while responding to the question raised by Hafeez Akhter Chaudhry, a PPP MPA from Sahiwal, told the House that, from January 2004 till April 2010, as many as 590 appointments were made in UAF in Grade 17 or above. The appointment included 67 professors, 60 associate professors, 215 assistant professors, 211 Lecturers and 37 recruitments for various heads.

Nevertheless, what came as a shocking revelation to the members of the House was the open confession of minister, who said that six such appointments were made on adhoc/contract at the said university. The candidates did not meet the required criterion and did not even possess the degree of MPhil, the minister said.

He told that the House that, in a meeting of University Syndicate, held in August 2008, these members were given relaxation for three years to receive their MPhil degrees, otherwise, they would be terminated from the service.

The confession of the controversial appointments at the varsity invoked severe criticism from the legislators who demanded stern action against the University Syndicate for making a mockery of merit.

Rana Mohammed Afzal, a PML-N legislator from Faisalabad, on a point of order stated that most of the appointments in various institutions were made to promote favoritism and nepotism. He said most of the institutions were normally ‘overloaded’ due to massive appointments on contract basis. Eventually, he added, the contract employees started pressing for regularization. He said that the minister had openly ëconfessedí six out of merit appointments.

Rao Hashim, another PML-N legislator from Faisalabad, on a point of order, stated that most of the appointments in the districts were made during a bye-poll in Samandri, a part of the district, calling for a probe into the matter.

Speaker Rana Mohammed Iqbal Khan, on the occasion, directed the minister to take notice of the issue, referring the matter to the House Committee for Agriculture to seek reply from the UAF Syndicate.

Responding to a question raised by Seemal Kamran of PML-Q, Ahmed Ali Aulakh told that adulterated pesticides worth Rs 330 million were seized by task forces set up under the supervision of every district coordination officer (DCO). He further told that the Punjab government had also ordered the secrete agencies and special branches to monitor the Pest Warning and Control process.

To another question, he told the House that it was made compulsory for a pesticide dealer to possess, at least, a matri degree and a training certificate.

To a question raised by a PPP member, Ahmed Ali Aulakh told the House that, from 2005 to 2007, as many as 12,553 water courses were brick lined. The news

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