LAHORE – While the government is busy conducting a survey in the Walled City to identify historic buildings to be placed on the national heritage list, the dwellers are finding it hard to reconstruct their dilapidated buildings in the absence of clearly defined rules which have not been framed as yet despite orders by the provincial ombudsman.
The Punjab government had imposed ban on demolition of buildings in 2008 to save national heritage and the City District Government was then directed to make rules which are still awaited despite lapse of around four years.
However, Walled City Project Director General Kamran Lashari was confident that the problem would soon be over as his department was in the process of identifying the historic buildings, and after completion of this exercise, the residents would be free to reconstruct the buildings not falling in the heritage list. Talking to this scribe, Lashari said all the buildings in the City would not be included in the list rather those with historic value. Though reconstruction of the buildings was banned but in exceptional cases the authority did allow the repair work, he maintained.
As the issue lingered on, the residents decided to approach the Punjab Ombudsman office for early formation of rules in October, 2011. The Ombudsman heard the complainant Muhammad Sarwar, a resident of Sheranwala Gate. Ravi Town TO (Regulation) presented a list of persons who did not comply with the government orders and carried out illegal construction.
The district officer (spatial planning) denied that the demolition, renewal or preservation of heritage buildings was the subject of the CDGL. “There was no question of approval of building plan by the CDGL,” the DO added.
A three-storey and beyond was a high-rise building that was banned, he informed. He said the CDGL did not frame rules as decided in the meeting held in October 2008 and the Walled City authority never followed up the issue nor any meeting was ever held in this regard. Hence, the decision needed to be revised, he held.
The ombudsman wrote the heritage buildings must be protected in coordination with the archaeology department and no moratorium should be imposed on renovation or reconstruction of the buildings which were dilapidated, the order said.
He further directed the Walled City Project and the CDGL to notify the policy on the subject and resolve the complainant’s problems as per the existing rules within one month.